Walmart and the mobile health management platform Sharecare announced a partnership earlier this month that will add a new element to the big-box chain’s wellness offering for its 1.5 million US employees. The partnership will give these employees, as well as their families, access to the Sharecare platform, which includes a variety of biometric data tools, an automated symptom checker to prepare for doctor visits, and tools for finding doctors and managing insurance claims. The program will first be introduced to participants in Walmart’s ZP Challenge wellbeing initiative:
Over the past four years, thousands of Walmart associates have transformed their lives by participating in the ZP Challenge, a series of 21-day programs that encourages and rewards associates and their families to improve their overall wellbeing by making better choices every day in the categories of fitness, family, food, and money. Building on the success of this initiative, Walmart will offer its associates using ZP with access to Sharecare, providing them with even more robust health and wellness resources to help them live their healthiest, happiest, most productive lives.
Walmart also will provide its associates and their families, alumni, and the community at large with full access to Sharecare to help each of them better understand, track, and improve their health, no matter where they are in their health journey.
The rollout to the full workforce will take place gradually over the coming few years, Sharecare president Dawn Whaley told Kathryn Mayer at Employee Benefit News. “We’ll start there [with the ZP Challenge], and then steadily scale over the next three years to engage more than 1 million users across the Walmart community,” Whaley said.
Walmart, along with other large US employers, has been exploring new ways to deliver health and wellness services to its massive community of employees in the face of rising health care costs and uncertainty about the future of US health care policy. Last month, the retailer was reported to be in talks with the health insurance company Humana about some kind of partnership that could potentially see the insurer help Walmart provide primary care or urgent care services at its stores, to employees as well as the public. Other large companies are exploring health care innovations of their own, like a joint project launched by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase, though some health care experts are skeptical as to whether these initiatives can successfully drive down costs.
Meanwhile, mobile health and wellness monitoring tools like Sharecare are becoming a bigger part of the picture. Fitbit, the leading manufacturer of wearable fitness trackers, made a deal to acquire Twine Health earlier this year, signaling that it saw potential for future growth in the enterprise health and wellbeing space. Apple, meanwhile, is establishing a network of clinics near its headquarters in Silicon Valley to provide primary health care services to its employees. These clinics will also provide test cases for a series of consumer-facing health products the iPhone maker is looking to market.