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HLTH 2022 Takeaways Part Three: Clarity and Competition Come into Focus from Big Tech and Big Retail

Guest Authored by Eric Thrailkill

Building on several years of purposeful investing in healthcare and catalyzed during the pandemic, perhaps no other outside force has made their impact felt upon health services delivery than Big Retail.  Headline-worthy acquisitions by Amazon (OneMedical), CVS (Signify Health), and Walgreens (subsidiary VillageMD acquisition of Summit Health) – all in the last several months – created the buzz around hearing from Big Retail at HLTH.  Joined by Best Buy Health (recent acquisition of Current Health and entry into the care at the home opportunity), Kroger Health, Dollar General, and the continued progress of Walmart Health – these traditional retailers are leveraging existing physical assets with a deep understanding of consumer preferences to create new models of primary care, specialty referrals, employer solutions, and yes – value-based care initiatives within certain Medicare Advantage markets.  

Continued emphasis on nutrition literacy, food-as-medicine strategies, virtual dieticians, and nutrition counseling/services, combined with new models of decentralized clinical trials, have brought clarity into historically opaque strategies from Big Retail.

Catalyzed by testing and vaccine services during the pandemic, these retailers are leveraging data, a deep understanding of consumer preferences, physical store locations, and an increasing array of services (vision, dental, imaging, dialysis) to meet patients and consumers where they are – at work, at home, and in the community.  Expect these organizations to continue to invest in omnichannel solutions and to make a meaningful impact on primary care services moving forward.

Perhaps the most intriguing and anticipated announcement was made by Amazon as they introduced Amazon Clinic – a virtual first approach leveraging the Amazon consumer platform for certain low acuity services delivered through an ecosystem of virtual first providers (initially SteadyMD and HealthTap). 

On display at HLTH – fireside chat Cheryl Pegus, MD (Walmart Health) and Sachin Jain, MD (SCAN Group and Health Plan) as moderated by Matthew Holt; Best Buy Health exhibiting their Hospital at Home model, Aaron Martin and Nworah Ayogu, MD (VP of Healthcare and Chief Medical Officer of Amazon Health, respectively), moderated by Julie Yoo (a16z).

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