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The New York Times this morning reports that Wal-Mart is scheduled to announce later today that it plans to open “several hundred new clinics at its stores, using a standardized format and jointly branded with hospitals and medical groups.”

According to the story, “Wal-Mart also says it plans to brand 200 of the new clinics with RediClinics, one of the Revolution Health companies of Steven Case, the AOL co-founder. Those are to be operated in partnership with various local health care providers. RediClinic, which already operates 13 clinics in Wal-Mart stores, plans to open one of the new units in Atlanta in April and another in Dallas next summer … In all, Wal-Mart plans to have 400 store clinics by 2010, including current units that will be converted to the new brand as their leases come up for renewal. The company currently has 78 in-store clinics around the country, but has had uneven performance in some cases. Wal-Mart does not operate any clinics itself but is seeking local hospitals and medical practices as partners, said Deisha Galberth, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman.”

KC's View:
While this clearly is a growing business and an important strategic move for Wal-Mart, it hasn’t been an initiative without problems. Late last month, CheckUps, which operates 23 in-store medical clinics in southern Wal-Mart stores, shut down those operations amid financial troubles that caused it to stop paying its employees and vendors.

I still think that eventually, Wal-Mart will want to own at least some of these facilities. It will give the company more control and more efficiencies.