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Business Week reports that while the viability of the in-store medical clinic business seems to have been proven in the US, Walmart has not been as immediately successful in this segment as expected. Two years ago, it said it would have 400 of them by 2010 and that eventually it could have as many as 4,000 – but today it only has 31 open.

“Wal-Mart has more than 1 million potential clients among its employees alone, and it is betting that the combination of rising health-care costs and consistent traffic from budget-minded shoppers will prove successful,” Business Week writes. “However, the enterprise has been marked by early stumbles and is taking longer than expected to develop. Industry experts and clinic operators cite brand confusion, advertising problems, broken partnerships, and the recession as factors in Wal-Mart's halting foray in the field.”

Four hundred clinics remains a short-term goal, Walmart says; the magazine says the retailer “plans to increase collaboration with established medical providers,” and that hundreds of hospitals and health systems are seeking collaborative partnerships with the retailer.
KC's View:
Walmart will get this right. No doubt in my mind. And I still think that eventually the retailer will simply buy an in-store medical clinic provider as a way of exercising more control over costs, operations and services.