In 2018, Walmart‘s board of directors approved a bold plan to scale to 4,000 clinics by 2029.
The timeline laid out a net investment of $3 billion, not counting profits from the clinics, and a rollout strategy, according to a February 2019 presentation to the board obtained by Insider.
The vision was backed by former Walmart US CEO Greg Foran, the health team’s biggest champion who left Walmart in 2019. And it was dreamed up by Sean Slovenski, who Foran asked to come up with a big idea in healthcare as Walmart’s biggest competitors were pushing deeper into the space.
Now those leaders have been replaced by a team with a different philosophy, and the strategy is in flux at the same time Walmart is dealing with the pandemic and focusing on e-commerce, Insider has learned through conversations with eight former and current employees.
One coalition inside Walmart is happy with the change of pace —the retailer has 20 clinics currently, with at least 15 slotted for 2021 — because healthcare is hard, and the clinics are a work in progress.
Another coalition is frustrated by what they see as a stark departure from the initial goal to provide inexpensive care for people around the US quickly as possible.
Walmart didn’t comment on whether the rollout was slowing, but said it continued to “experiment” with Walmart Health centers and that the pandemic had reaffirmed its commitment to healthcare. It pointed to the launch of pharmacy curbside delivery, COVID-19 testing sites, and vaccine administration as evidence.