Walmart buys MeMD to provide virtual healthcare nationwide

The move could help Walmart counter Amazon Care.

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A person waits at a Walmart Pharmacy where the Moderna coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine is available as Walmart and other major U.S. pharmacies take part in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, to increase vaccinations in the U.S. in West Haven, Connecticut, U.S., February 17, 2021. REUTERS/Mike Segar
REUTERS/Mike Segar

Walmart is determined to counter Amazon Care with a similarly powerful option. The retailer has acquired telehealth provider MeMD to offer virtual healthcare across the US, including urgent and behavioral care on top of the usual primary services. The new offering will serve as a complement to Walmart Health's in-person help.

The store chain didn't say how much it spent to buy MeMD, but expected the deal to close in the "coming months."

The buyout could help in a pandemic-struck era when Walmart customers might not be comfortable with in-person healthcare. It should also help with Walmart's shift toward services as a way to bolster its usual shopping revenue.

There's little doubt Walmart has its rival in mind, though. Amazon plans to expand Care to companies nationwide by the summer. Walmart's virtual option won't operate in the same way as Amazon Care, it could still undermine the competition by the time both remote health services are fully ready. As it stands, Walmart hasn't exactly been shy about matching Amazon on features whenever possible — it may have been just a matter of time before Walmart made a purchase like this.

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