The news: Walmart is partnering with Health at Scale, a platform that uses AI and machine learning to provide associates and their families with personalized physician recommendations, per a Health at Scale press release.
Why it’s worth watching: This follows a string of moves Walmart has made over the past year to beef up its employer-sponsored digital health benefits—which could be a play to compete with Amazon’s employee coverage.
For example, last October, Walmart Health announced a new digital benefits program for associates enrolled in its health plan.
This all could be part of an overall strategy to keep workers from jumping ship to huge competitors like Amazon—which has offered employees in-person and access to 24/7 virtual care since October 2021.
Why retail giants are doubling down on virtual care this year: Telehealth and personalized care recommendations from a trusted clinician could encourage workers to access care more regularly and in turn, prevent healthcare costs from racking up.
Nearly 1 in 5 US residents say they delayed care last year, and of those delaying medical visits, about 57% said they experienced negative health outcomes, according to data from the Cleveland Clinic.
For example, if an AI platform could match employees up with physicians of similar race ethnicity, which could boost trust in medical providers among people of color: Patients who shared similar ethnic or racial backgrounds as their physicians reported a higher satisfaction rating, per a 2020 Penn Medicine analysis of 100,000 patient surveys.