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At This Walmart, the Doctor Will See You

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Walmart has quietly begun a pilot program at its Bensalem, Pa., store that it hopes to expand to additional units: telemedicine service.

Walmart’s Retail Medical Clinics, operated by Telemed Venture under the retail brand Smart Care Doc, have teamed with BCS Global Networks, a leading worldwide provider of managed videoconferencing. BCS Global’s managed visual collaboration solution enables remote video consultations between a patient and doctor through a life-like, virtual face-to-face video interface over a secure network.

A visit to the store-based clinic begins with opening a new electronic health record (EHR). A nurse conducts a preliminary examination, checking blood pressure, temperature, weight and other vital signs. Once the vitals have been uploaded electronically, the visual collaboration solution allows patient/doctor interaction through a virtual face-to-face interface. The service allows the doctor to review the electronic data, make a diagnosis, prepare an electronic prescription and more. If patients need further attention, they can be referred to a specialist.

Patients will pay $59 to see a teledoctor, approximately 40 percent less than what similar types of clinics with nurse practitioners are charging. No question, it appears to be a robust platform at an attractive price point -- and a solution that allows Walmart to provide better care. It’s also more cost effective than the prospect of Walmart hiring dedicated doctors and nurse practitioners. Still, there’s something to be said for the doctor feeling for swollen glands or listening closely to that congestion in your chest.