To date, Tom notes, "Wal-Mart already has 50 in-store clinics with plans to quickly open thousands more." Summarizing his thoughts at the end -- perhaps facetiously, perhaps not, as you never know with Tom -- he notes that as a result of this imitative, "Wal-Mart's future patients will still be the winners, because they'll finally have access to a care model that they'll understand -- and use."
There's another angle to this entire market entrance strategy that Tom has not yet explored (yet I hope he does). And that's the fact that Wal-Mart is known to be one of the most savvy negotiators -- if not the most -- in the retail business. Might they bring this knowledge to healthcare? You bet. And no doubt healthcare suppliers -- from software companies to ultimately imaging and other medical "hardware" -- will face a new, potentially huge, customer with 10x the savvy of most IDNs and hospitals, let alone small physician practices. Perhaps, ultimately, we'll see Wal-Mart become the low-cost distributor in the medical business, serving as a type of Grainger for the broader health industry.
Stranger things have happened. And, when Wal-Mart sees the size of the health opportunity in the US and its growing share of double-digit GDP, you can be sure they have more up their sleeve. And I reckon if this is the case, suppliers won't know what hit them.