Walmart’s first super center for health care services opened September 13, 2019 in Dallas, Georgia. This new “Walmart Health” center is 10,000 square feet and provides medical, dental, optometry, behavioral health services, lab testing, X-rays, EKG, hearing and wellness education. Other Walmart stores have smaller (1500 square foot) “Care Clinics” with more limited services in cities in Georgia, South Carolina and Texas.
My questions from my 30+ years as a radiographer: How comfortable would you be going to Walmart if you thought you had pneumonia or a broken bone? Will the radiographs be interpreted by a Radiologist, or whom? Will the person taking my X-ray be ARRT registered, or not? Georgia is a no licensure state.
The requirement according to Georgia Administrative Code Rule 290-5-22-.04 is that “the registrant shall require persons operating his radiation machine and associated equipment to receive, at a minimum, six hours of instruction to include radiation protection, dark room techniques, patient protection and machine safety that must be completed within 90 days after the date of employment”. What about knowing the anatomy, positioning and quality skills required to produce a diagnostic image? Does this mean anyone in Georgia can take an X-ray on a patient after 360 minutes of training?
Walmart’s second health care super center opened on January 29, 2020 in Calhoun, GA. Sean Sovenski, President of Walmart U.S. Health and Wellness, stated they have been “prioritizing how Walmart can be a leader in promoting better health outcome for people in their communities on their schedule and within their budgets”. The center offers transparent pricing regardless of a patient’s insurance status. A child can get a checkup for $20, lab tests start at $10 and teeth cleaning for adults is $25. The hours of operation include evenings and weekends.
Other companies, such as CVS, have clinics open during specific hours of the day, sometimes including early evening hours that are helpful to customers that can’t make it to their physician’s office before it closes. It will be very interesting to see if local family and group physicians try to compete by staying open later in the evenings in these markets. Will they be able to compete with Walmart prices though?
I was curious so I called for prices at the Dallas, GA location. This is a list of the patient cost that I was given for a few common X-rays procedures:
|X-ray Procedure||Walmart Price|
|Chest||$24-41 (depending on number of views)|
|L-Spine 2-4 views||$34.69|
|L-Spine 5 views||$48.50|
How does that compare to the charges in your radiology department or area? Walmart is definitely lowering prices. Keep in mind that you would see a physician at the visit cost of $40, who will then order an X-ray exam, when he/she decides it is appropriate. Walmart believes it will make an impactful difference in convenience and cost saving for its customers in the community. I’m not surprised by the drive to lower medical cost. Is this revolutionary or a patient care disaster? Perhaps, the average consumer won’t have the quality of care concerns that I do.