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September 5, 2019

The Big Yellow Asterisk

Your humble scribe played hooky for couple of weeks because there was just a lot going on and the blog fell through the cracks.  No lame excuses.

Part of the agenda was taking our youngest to college, which took me to Oklahoma, which took me back to my roots, which took me back to Walmart country, which took me to today’s post.

Stay with me here because several seemingly unrelated streams of thought are colliding in my mind.  But at least all are related to Walmart.  We’ll try to tie them together at the end.

First, living in a metropolitan area in the west makes it easy to forget just how dominate Walmart is in many parts of the country.  They are everywhere in many places.

Then we were talking with some friends from a decent sized city in the south and the subject turned to grocery store options.  We have several chains in Denver, but they had just two choices – one regional player and Walmart.  Period.

Speaking of which, I read a fascinating article about a consultant who is the dude trying to save local grocery stores from Walmart and Amazon. It is a long piece, but as you’ll see below, I think it’s worth your time.

Finally, we get this news this week that the retail behemoth from Bentonville whose logo looks like an asterisk (guessing you now know who that is) is about to open a pilot clinic in Dallas, Georgia that is part of their bigger push into care delivery.  Besides adding behavioral health visits, the other interesting thing to note here is that the clinic is in a stand-alone building in the Walmart parking lot…which makes it feel more like a doctor’s office.

We’ve commented before on Walmart’s close and logical relationship with Humana (Humana is a big player in the Medicare Advantage space; lower income seniors select an MA option more frequently; Walmart owns the heart and mindshare of Americans who are below median income levels) and the executive leading their clinic efforts was recruited from Humana.  We’ll continue to bet $1 on a future acquisition here.

OK, Tim collected a bunch of Walmart anecdotes over two weeks.  What’s the point?

The article referenced above describes an industry being disrupted by two big players – Walmart and Amazon – who are mowing through slow-to-change grocery store chains. Make no mistake: competing against them is hard.  But the big point from those who are succeeding is that you can’t ‘out Walmart Walmart.’  The only option is to create something that Walmart and Amazon cannot.  In the grocery world, that is about creating a great experience for the shopper that showcases unique and local foods.

If we’ve been effective in getting our message across, you’ll see the connection to what we believe is the advantage held by independent physician practices.   Keep an eye on Walmart but read the article and see what thoughts it prompts for your practice.

Tim Coan
Tim Coan

CEO and founder

Tim Coan, ALN’s CEO, writes an insightful and witty blog weekly about a variety of topics relevant to independent physician practices.