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CNBC writes about as retailers search “for ways to differentiate their stores as consumers increasingly shop online,” some of them are using what they hope will be a differentiated approach to health care as a strategy.

For example, “CVS Health wants to add more options at its retail clinics, known as MinuteClinics, once it closes its acquisition of health insurer Aetna. Walgreens is testing a number of partnerships, including one with UnitedHealth Group to add urgent care centers to some drugstores.” And that doesn’t even count the fact that Walgreen has a new marketing arrangement with Kroger, and announced last week that it plans to open a minimum of 600 medical testing facilities inside its drugstores.”

Amazon, of course, is working with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase to form an independent health care company to serve their US employees, plans to open primary care clinics for employees at its Seattle headquarters, and also knows that many of its customers have said that they would love it if Amazon would offer prescriptions via its site.

Now, CNBC says, Walmart has set as a high priority the lowering of health care costs for both its customers and employees; it says that health insurance for its 2.2 million employees worldwide is its second largest expense, after wages. And it knows that the more that its customers spend on health care, the less they have to spend in its stores.

“Currently, Walmart operates 19 health clinics,” the story says. “The retailer also offers pharmacies, vision centers and hosts screening events. Walmart partners with health plans, including Humana, to encourage people to buy healthier foods at Walmart, which is also the nation's largest grocer.”
KC's View:
One of the reasons that health care is so interesting to retailers, I think, is that there seem to be tangible connections that can be made with customers/patients. It takes the retailer beyond a transactional approach to business, and tries to develop a deeper connection that is less vulnerable to disruption by outside forces. That’s important, and worth emulating.