May 10, 2022
Healthcare IT News
By Kate Jercich
Walmart Health’s telehealth company MeMD launched a virtual care diabetes program this past week aimed at helping individuals improve management of the disease. The initiative, known as the Walmart Health Virtual Care Diabetes Program, was developed for employers and payers as a standalone offering or as part of a comprehensive telehealth program.
“Walmart Health collaborated with the American Diabetes Association to bring this evidence-based virtual program to fruition,” said Dr. John Wigneswaran, Walmart’s chief medical officer, in a statement.
“Our aim is to empower patients with the most up-to-date diabetes education and clinical care so they can take control of their health,” Wigneswaran said. “Our program focuses on a patient’s physical and mental health, which also helps employers maintain healthier workforces and drive down overall healthcare costs.”
WHY IT MATTERS
The Walmart Health Virtual Care Diabetes Program combines personalized diabetes education, behavioral health awareness and counseling, said the company. Enrolled members or employees will participate in an initial consultation with a licensed medical provider to discuss patient history, eating habits and more.
The aim, said vendors, is to identify gaps in care and depression risks, while scheduling a follow-up visit with licensed behavioral health therapists to address each area.
“Patients with diabetes are two to three times more likely to have depression than those without diabetes, and addressing mental health is critical to caring for the whole patient,” said Wigneswaran.
The company also points to its efforts at pharmacies around the country, where patients can access vaccinations and fill insulin and diabetes medication prescriptions.
“Through the Walmart Health Virtual Care Diabetes Program, our goal is to help break down barriers to effective care management in a way that empowers patients to take charge of their wellness,” said Dr. David Carmouche, Walmart’s senior vice president of omnichannel care, in a statement.
THE LARGER TREND
The diabetes program is just Walmart’s latest effort to flex its retail muscle in the healthcare space.
Its acquisition of MeMD in May 2021 reverberated throughout the industry, with experts comparing the move to Amazon’s own telehealth efforts.
But, like Amazon, it’s also taken steps to provide more in-person services: This past month, it opened a handful of new health centers in Florida, which will be the first to leverage its partnership with Epic.
ON THE RECORD
“At the American Diabetes Association, we believe successful diabetes management starts with knowledge,” said Dr. Robert Gabbay, chief scientific and medical officer for the ADA, in a statement.
“Education is key, and we are proud to partner with Walmart Health to develop a virtual diabetes management program for businesses,” said Gabbay.
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