The news: walmart is in partnership with Large Scale Healtha platform that uses AI and machine learning to provide associates and their families with personalized doctor recommendations, according to a Health at Scale press release.
Why it’s worth watching: This follows a series of moves Walmart has taken over the past year to bolster its employer-sponsored digital health benefits, which could be a game to compete with. from Amazon employee coverage.
For example, last October Walmart Health announced a new digital benefits program for associates enrolled in its health plan.
- The package includes a virtual physiotherapy program which allows employees to complete video tours and online application-based exercises, in addition to a new gastrointestinal pilot program focused on improving employee digestive health through one-on-one coaching.
- Walmart’s digital health solutions also incorporated virtual access to primary care physicians to help monitor employees’ chronic conditions.
This could all be part of an overall strategy to keep workers from jumping ship for huge competitors like Amazon, which has been providing employees with in-person access and access to virtual care 24/7 since October 2021.
- Most (65%) of American workers are willing to give up benefits like paid time off and flextime for better benefits, according to a recent One Medical survey of 1,600 employees.
- Improving access to health care could be a particularly important strategy for Walmart as retail workers leave in droves: The retail sector lost 4.4% of its workforce in November 2021 alone, by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Why retail giants are doubling down on virtual care this year: Telehealth and personalized care recommendations from a trusted clinician could encourage workers to access care more regularly and therefore prevent healthcare costs from rising.
Nearly one in five US residents say they delayed care in the past yearand those who delay medical visits, about 57% said they had experienced health problems, according to Cleveland Clinic data.
- In the case of Walmart, providing employees with a platform that connects them with a doctor best suited to them could increase satisfaction and encourage workers to seek regular medical care.
For example, if an AI platform could match employees with doctors of similar ethnicity, it could build trust in medical providers among people of color: Patients who shared similar ethnic or racial backgrounds with their physicians reported a higher satisfaction rate, by a 2020 Penn Medicine analysis of 100,000 patient surveys.