Walmart is rolling out a Testing and Treatment program at Walmart pharmacies in 12 states, seven days a week.
In making the announcement in a post on Walmart’s website, Kevin Host, senior vice president of Walmart Health & Wellness, Pharmacy said, “The relationship between pharmacies and the communities they serve should always have health at the center. But what does that take? At Walmart, we think it comes down to empowering our pharmacists and increasing access to health care. When pharmacists are able to practice at the top of their clinical abilities, they’re able to do more for their communities, too. And when those communities have convenient access to care, they live better, healthier lives. That’s why we’re proud to pioneer Testing and Treatment: a new program that lets Walmart pharmacists test customers for strep throat, the flu and COVID-19 – then help treat them – all in one place."
Now available at Walmart pharmacies in 12 states, seven days a week, Host said that Testing and Treatment goes beyond the services many others can offer, "epitomizing convenience by testing customers and then providing treatments in the same store."
[Read more: Pharmacy Innovator of the Year 2021: Walmart connects with communities]
Host continued, "A flu test may lead to a prescription for Tamiflu, or a sore throat could be calmed by tea and chicken noodle soup. Either way, it’s only aisles away. Our pharmacies are ready to be more than your second or third stop on the path to getting better – they can be your only stop."
Pointing out that Walmart's proximity to people makes this proposition even more meaningful, Host said Walmart stores are within 10 miles of 90% of the U.S. population. "We can serve communities whether they’re searching for advice on general wellness, or in need of an answer to the common question: Why am I not feeling so great? If we learned anything in 2020 and the years that followed, it’s that testing and detection of curable illnesses can help save lives and bolster community health. And with flu season on the horizon and COVID-19 cases forever fluctuating, we believe Testing and Treatment could hardly come at a better time."
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Host also noted that patients who wish to take advantage of the program have options. They can simply walk-in to a participating pharmacy and engage with a pharmacist, or they can use Walmart’s mobile app to make an appointment and head in when it’s time. "If you’re not feeling well, consider taking precautions to keep yourself – and other shoppers – safe," Host said.
The service is currently cash-only as Walmart prepares to bill third-party insurance plans, but Walmart accepts health savings accounts and plans to accept third-party coverage in the future. "Currently, the price starts around $133 depending on the service provided – you just don't have to make any additional trips after," Host said.
Host also noted that Walmart's pharmacy teams are excited to implement the new service. "As pharmacists are being empowered to practice at the top of their clinical ability, they are also witnessing an important shift in the profession," he said, citing John Ulrey as one of those pharmacists.
"When he started at Store 557 in Emporia, Kansas, in 1983, things were different than they are today. He was typing medication labels on a typewriter. And he certainly wasn’t vaccinating people," Host said.
“Pharmacists are starting to fill an important gap in the medical field,” Ulrey said. “It’s going to change how pharmacists are thought of in the community!”
Lastly, Host, said, "Continuing to empower pharmacists like John is key to helping close the gap in the medical field. A shortage of nearly 48,000 primary care physicians is expected by 2034, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. We think expanding the scope of our pharmacists’ practice matters now – and will continue to well into the future. It’s why we’re investing in our pharmacists at every opportunity, working to ensure Walmart pharmacies remain great places to work."