American multinational retail corporation Walmart Inc. is working to increase the degree of competition in the telehealth sector, with its primary rival being Amazon Care. Amazon Care has been working with Care Medical, an independent medical practice, to provide healthcare to Americans. Now, Walmart is planning to do the same. The company has acquired MeMD, an online medical consultation and telehealth provider, to offer virtual healthcare to people across the United States. This will include usual primary services, as well as urgent and behavioural care.
While Walmart did not disclose the exact amount that is spent on the acquisition process, it did state that the deal will be finalised in the coming few months. The acquisition will allow Walmart to expand its already established Walmart Health service across the country. According to Cheryl Pegus, M.D., executive vice president, Health & Wellness, entering the telehealth industry offers a golden opportunity to expand access and reach consumers, regardless of their location. Moreover, it serves to complement their physical Walmart Health sites.
The primary aim of Walmart’s Health & Wellness department is to focus on the improved health and seamless experience of their consumers. By welcoming employers from MeMD into Walmart, the collaboration between both companies can help accelerate access to health care across the country. According to company executives, the acquisition also works to demonstrate Walmart’s commitment to ensure integrated health delivery to improve engagement, health equity, and outcomes for its consumers.
The deal between Walmart and MeMD could prove to be extremely helpful in a world stricken by a pandemic, as customers might not be comfortable with receiving in-person healthcare at clinics or hospitals. It will also help Walmart itself, as the shift towards providing services may serve to generate more revenue and establish a stream of finance other than shopping and retail.
However, Walmart is also competing with Amazon, which signed its first enterprise customer for its Amazon Care virtual health service in the same week. It was reported that Amazon is working with Precor, a fitness equipment company based in Woodinville, Washington, that was acquired by Peloton in early April of this year. The pay that Amazon will receive will depend on how many people are using its virtual care app. Although the deal is financially negligible it represents a major milestone for the e-commerce business’s health service as it works to grow and expand across the country.
It is important to note that Amazon and Walmart are not the only players present. The telehealth sector is attracting large amounts of investments and has become increasingly competitive as the COVID-19 pandemic led to more consumers preferring telehealth. There have also been other examples of mergers and acquisitions, such as Cigna’s Evernorth acquiring MDLive, the merger of Doctor on Demand and Grand Rounds, and Accolade’s acquisition of PlushCare, a virtual primary care company