Walmart launches a healthcare research arm as the retailer adds more Medicare services and works to address health equity and access to medically disadvantaged populations.
The retail giant said Tuesday that the Walmart Institute for Healthcare Research is designed to increase community access to the latest “interventions and medicines” that can make a difference for “older people, rural residents, women and minorities” who are considered underrepresented. In particular, the institute’s early focus will be to ensure that this population is included in studies for the treatment of other chronic conditions and diseases.
“What we are trying to do is adequately represent individuals in society,” Chief Medical Officer of Walmart, Dr. John Wigneswaran said in an interview. “It really is about equity and accessibility in healthcare. We know that our clients are interested in participating in healthcare research, but not many of them have had access to it yet.”
Walmart’s efforts come as the US Food and Drug Administration and the Biden White House look to improve drug research and patient health outcomes by enrolling more Americans of underrepresented racial and ethnic groups in US clinical trials.
With the increasing number of Americans seeking care in retail health clinics and pharmacies, Walmart and competitors that include CVS Health and Walgreens say they want to play a role in improving health outcomes for the growing number of patients they see. Walmart rival Walgreens earlier this year launched a clinical trial business, hoping to increase the racial and ethnic diversity of patients in drug research.
The Food and Drug Administration has acknowledged that racial and ethnic minorities are “often underrepresented in biomedical research,” The agency said earlier this year When outlining government steps to improve diversity in clinical trials, given that one in five drugs has different responses in ethnic groups, most clinical trial participants are white.
In the case of Walmart, the Institute for Healthcare Research works with study partners that include: “Clinical research organizations, pharmaceutical companies, and leading academic medical centers, including CTI Clinical Experimental and Consulting ServicesAnd the Lena projects.”
Wigneswaran said about 4,000 Walmart stores are located in underrepresented areas of the United States, so the retailer will play a key role in identifying patients for research. “We won’t do clinical trials, but we can identify patients who could benefit,” Wigneswaran said.
Bill Hawkins, chairman of the Duke University Health Board of Directors, said Walmart’s efforts “in research are innovative and impactful” as well as “supporting individual patient health as well as the health of the many communities that include Walmart stores.”
Walmart This year five new doctors are opening “Wal-Mart Health” cIt enters Florida as the retail giant looks to expand low-cost healthcare services to tens of thousands of its customers. Like Healthcare Services, Walmart Health’s retail business has launched in 20 locations across Arkansas, Georgia and Illinois in the past three years, Florida facilities feature a range of primary and urgent care medical services including X-ray services, dental and eye care, and behavioral health services as part of a model New to be replicated in other markets.
Walmart has also made great strides to reach medically disadvantaged Americans who cannot afford treatment or medication. Last year, the retailer launched Own brand insulin. And more than a decade ago grab the headlines To ask hundreds of public Prescriptions for only $4.
“This is a fantastic initiative from Walmart, addressing a critical issue by leveraging its reach, resources and impact,” said Dr. Harlan Krumholz of the Center for Research and Evaluation of Outcomes at Yale New Haven Hospital. “As a trusted brand, I hope their efforts will make the research more easily available to many who have not had the opportunity to participate and also make progress toward greater health equity.”