- REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
There must be something in the water that’s sparked practically every retailer out there to this month reveal more about their healthcare strategies (Looking at you, Walmart + Sam’s Club, Amazon, and Best Buy).
Between that and the turmoil in the e-cigarette space, the healthcare team is definitely looking forward to the weekend. Thanks everyone for all the marathon training tips – I’ll be incorporating them this week on my long runs.
Relatedly, this week I put on a continuous glucose monitor for the first time with the much-appreciated help of a BI colleague. It’s been interesting to get a sense of where my blood sugar is at any time of the day, especially during runs. For those who wear one/have experimented with it for performance purposes, what do I need to try out? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Retailers are betting big on healthcare
This week was illuminating as far as understanding more about what companies like Best Buy and Amazon are doing in healthcare. Here’s a rundown of all that we learned this week.
- This week, Walmart added healthcare degrees and pharmacy technician and optician certification to its upskilling program for its employees. That’ll be helpful as it grows its healthcare footprint. Walmart is making a big push into healthcare. But first, it plans to train its employees to fill open spots in clinics and pharmacies.
- Also, it seems like Walmart has an interest in caring for people in the home. At the grand opening of its health clinic, the company showed off a smart “flower pot” prototype, meant to sense vital signs like heart rate and walking patterns when used in the home. We got the full story, and you can read more about it here.
- And Emma Court has the story of Walmart-owned Sam’s Club’s new partnership with Humana that’s meant to make healthcare services cheaper. Sam’s Club wants to sell you cheaper care – and it shows that the healthcare wars are heating up.
- First, here’s a rundown of what Best Buy laid out during its investor day. Best Buy just gave a 109-slide presentation on the future of the company. Here are the 7 crucial slides that spell out why the company is going all-in on healthcare.
- Ahead of it, Best Buy’s ambitions were enough to get analysts at Morgan Stanley to think the company could have an up to $46 billion opportunity on its hands. That’d be big, considering the company’s current annual revenue is around $43 billion. Here’s how Morgan Stanley thinks the consumer-tech giant will attack the massive market.
- Clarrie Feinstein has the story on Amazon Care, the latest move by Amazon to get ahold of healthcare costs for its employees. This time, it’s through virtual doctor visits, in-home care and prescription delivery. Amazon just launched a health clinic pilot program. It’s the latest sign the company wants to upend US healthcare.
Related to the virtual piece of Amazon’s new push into healthcare, Emma and I took a look at the trend of companies in the pharmacy space tacking on telemedicine to connect consumers to the medications they might be shopping around for.
The latest case: Prescription-coupon aggregator GoodRx has acquired telemedicine startup HeyDoctor to do just that.
$2.8 billion pharmacy startup GoodRx just got into the business of prescribing medications, and it shows how a long-hyped technology is taking off in healthcare
Along the lines of retail going deep on healthcare, here’s something I think about a lot.
My colleagues over on the retail desk have been tracking the number of store closures over the past few years, the dreaded “Retail Apocalypse.”
And sure, retailers including pharmacies aren’t immune to it (see: Walgreens closing 200 stores, announced in August).
But at the same time, I’ve been reporting on initiatives like the new Walmart Health clinic in Dallas, Georgia that fills up a big part of the Supercenter there, and new primary care and urgent care companies that find themselves taking up space in real estate once occupied by outlet stores or other strip mall inhabitants.
All that is to say, I haven’t come to a firm conclusion of what that means for the future of retail, apart from the very apparent trend that Americans are paying more for their healthcare than ever before.
Have you all been seeing this too? Curious what you think, if there are other factors I haven’t considered, or if anybody’s read the tea leaves and has figured out where this is headed. I’m at email@example.com.
The growing vaping problem
Over the past few weeks, it’s been worrisome to watch as the number of deaths connected with vaping continue to climb. As of September 24, at least 12 people have died, while hundreds more have come down with a mysterious illness, whose symptoms include things like chest pain, vomiting, and difficulty breathing. BI and Insider’s health teams have been following along closely (you can catch all of the coverage here), but here are some highlights.
- First, Emma and Insider’s Julia Naftulin looked into reports of people using vapes that contain other substances like caffeine. Black market marijuana vapes containing substances like alcohol and caffeine may be to blame for spate of mysterious lung illnesses
- Juul’s CEO left the company this week. Erin recapped the history of the company here: The precarious path of e-cig startup Juul: From Silicon Valley darling to $38 billion behemoth under criminal investigation
- Erin also has the story on how the company became what it is today. E-cigarette company Juul raised billions to pursue global domination, but a rash of challenges is raising questions about its strategy
In other drama…
Emma read through the 59-page letter Novartis sent to the FDA about a data manipulation issue that happened with the world’s most expensive drug. Here’s what she learned from it.
And last Friday, Dakin Campbell and I had the scoop on some of the fallout of the SmileDirectClub initial public offering.
I’ll leave you with this piece from Clarrie, about an app that’s being used to treat back pain. I, for one, would love to hear/see how it works.
Programming note: The whole (!) team will be in New York next week. Erin, Emma and I are moderating a whole bunch of sessions at the CB Insights Future of Health conference, so be sure to say hi if you’re passing through. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org
See you then.