Best Buy and Walmart are the latest retailers to step up their expansion into healthcare. Their announcements follow a series of industry expansions, with retailers like CVS, Amazon and Walgreens aggressively boosting their clinical footprints in the last few months.
Best Buy's chief executive officer Corie Barry explained its latest move in a webcast for investors to discuss earnings. Current Health, the technology platform it acquired in 2021, has just begun a three-year partnership with Advocate Health, a leading Midwestern provider. Barry said the deal would use Advocate's "hospital at home" program to care for 6 million people.
"Boosted by its affiliation with Best Buy, Current Health had its best commercial booking year ever, and we now have relationships with five of the top 10 largest health systems in the U.S.," she said. Those include such providers as Geisinger, Mount Sinai Health System and NYU Langone Health.
"The role of technology within healthcare is becoming more important than ever, and our strategy is to enable care at home for everyone," she said, adding that while its healthcare business is still small, the company expects sales to rise faster than for Best Buy's core businesses.
Best Buy reported that sales for its fiscal fourth quarter fell to $14.74 billion, compared to $16.37 billion in the prior year's comparable period. Net earnings dropped to $495 million from $626 million in the year-ago period.
Those results were in line with expectations. And the Minneapolis company joined many other retailers in predicting sales declines for the coming year, in the range of 3% to 6% lower.
Walmart Health's announcement involves a hefty expansion of its clinics, first launched in 2019. It says it will open 28 new Walmart Health center locations, including its first in Missouri and Arizona. It also deepens its presence in Texas, with ten new locations in Dallas and eight in Houston.
It anticipates more than 75 Walmart Health centers by the end of 2024.
The centers offer walk-in care and appointments, with technology that encompasses Epic's electronic health record system. They also offer a larger range of care than many competitors, including doctors, dentists, behavioral health specialists and community health workers, offering X-rays and audiology.