Wal-Mart Stores doesn’t do small. In 2007 at the World Health Care Congress in Washington, then-Chief Executive Officer Lee Scott announced plans for the world’s largest retailer’s health-care expansion. He said Walmart would open as many as 2,000 in-store medical clinics by mid-2012, calling the strategy “a great opportunity for our business.” Today, Walmart has fewer than 130 clinics and is closing locations faster than it’s opening them.
Walmart lagged because it didn’t adequately promote clinics or integrate them with existing pharmacy operations, says Kenneth Berndt, who helped open and operate Walmart clinics in three states as director of business development for Bellin Health System, a health-care provider based in Green Bay, Wis. “People have to know you’re there,” says Berndt, now CEO of Danville (Pa.)-based Geisinger Careworks, the retail clinic division of Geisinger Health System. “They did not have enough traffic to successfully operate.”