Walmart and Microsoft move to close in on Amazon in healthcare arena

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Amazon’s two biggest competitors in two different arenas are joining together to take on the retail giant in healthcare. The five-year strategic partnership between Walmart and Microsoft seeks to use cloud computing and artificial intelligence in retail to disrupt Amazon’s growth and help consumers.

The cooperative effort, according to HealthCareDive, “will open up opportunities to use AI and machine learning to enhance the consumer experience.”[1] As HealthCareDive reports: “The addition of AI and broad cloud capabilities could help Walmart accelerate its move into healthcare. The company already operates pharmacies, and in May signed a deal to offer Sharecare’s personalized wellness platform to commercial customers beginning next year. On Monday, Walmart tapped Sean Slovenski, former vice president of innovation at Humana, to head its health and wellness unit.”[2] In addition, “Microsoft has also been upping its stake in healthcare, announcing last month the formation of a formal unit to advance AI and cloud-based healthcare tools.”[3]

This endeavor comes at a time when consumers are demanding easier access to healthcare services and tools in an industry that is still slow to adopt consumer models. A recent report from brand and marketing consultancy company, Prophet, reveals that “providers, payers and pharma companies have not shifted to a consumer centric model,” according to an article by HealthCareDive.[4] “Prophet said empowering and engaging consumers is critical. Patients expect more from providers to tackle healthcare costs and want a more active role in personal health management.”[5]

Consumerism in healthcare extends to businesses, too. Employers of all sizes are pinched as health insurance costs continue to rise and they’ve exhausted almost every tool they have to reduce costs. According to HealthCareDive, “34% of smaller employers, defined as having between 10 and 499 employees, saw health insurance cost increases of more than 10% in 2017.”[6] And almost 20% of employers with 500 or more employees and 11% of businesses with 20,000 or more workers “saw health plan cost increases of more than 10% last year.”[7] Increases in the double-digits are putting pressure on employers to push the costs back on employees with higher deductible, consumer-directed plans that utilize health savings accounts.

Walmart and Microsoft could make headway in reducing healthcare costs with new tools and accessibility to millions of consumers. Walmart is the largest employer in the country, with 1.4 million employees, the size of a city. Those employees already enjoy the benefit of the centers of excellence that Walmart has created for major surgeries, such as joint replacements. What if Walmart, in its partnership with Microsoft to make healthcare consumer-centric, takes its centers of excellence model to the whole country and applies it at a local level? Walmart could test this out on its employees, then take it nationally to other employers of all sizes.

With Microsoft’s AI tools and Walmart’s reach, consumers across the country could enjoy easier access to healthcare as well as lower costs. As Walmart and Microsoft further dive into the healthcare market, HealthQRS will give them the platform they need to tie everything together and give consumers across the country a complete, easy-to-use retail experience for consumers.

HealthQRS has created an entire e-commerce platform for the industry that will allow hospitals and physicians to give patients the “Amazon” experience in healthcare. Walmart and Microsoft can leverage this to their advantage to compete with Amazon.

HealthQRS provides people a full, rich, retail experience in healthcare just like they are used to receiving from Amazon for retail goods. From their smartphones, consumers can search for services and procedures in their network, see true prices – not just estimates – schedule the service, search for discounts, pay for the service or set up payment plans, find transportation, receive appointment alerts, wellness alerts, and even see a doctor via telemedicine. You name it. HealthQRS offers it.

HealthQRS has over 15 years of experience developing healthcare retail experiences for people and our founders have over 50 combined years of e-commerce experience. We invite you to watch our user-friendly app video that you can use to win consumers. We also have a point-of-service solution video that may interest you. You can also check out our E-Commerce Medical Marketplace Flyer for more information. Why not contact us right now to schedule a personalized demo? We’re ready to help you gain market share, secure your financial outlook and provide consumers with a great experience.

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[1] Meg Bryant, “Walmart, Microsoft cloud, AI pact has healthcare implications,” HealthCareDive, Jul. 18, 2018, https://www.healthcaredive.com/news/walmart-microsoft-cloud-ai-pact-has-healthcare-implications/527997/

[2] Bryant, “Walmart, Microsoft cloud, HealthCareDive, https://www.healthcaredive.com/news/walmart-microsoft-cloud-ai-pact-has-healthcare-implications/527997/

[3] Bryant, “Walmart, Microsoft cloud, HealthCareDive, https://www.healthcaredive.com/news/walmart-microsoft-cloud-ai-pact-has-healthcare-implications/527997/

[4] Les Masterson, “Healthcare consumerism efforts lacking, report finds,” HealthCareDive, Jul. 19, 2018, https://www.healthcaredive.com/news/healthcare-consumerism-efforts-lacking-report-finds/528143/

[5] Masterson, “Healthcare consumerism,” HealthCareDive, https://www.healthcaredive.com/news/healthcare-consumerism-efforts-lacking-report-finds/528143/

[6] Les Masterson, “Employer health insurance cost growth cut in half,” HealthCareDive, Jul. 12, 2018, https://www.healthcaredive.com/news/employer-health-insurance-cost-growth-cut-in-half/527628/

[7] Masterson, “Employer health insurance,” HealthCareDive, https://www.healthcaredive.com/news/employer-health-insurance-cost-growth-cut-in-half/527628/

 

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