This article contains speculative content, opinions, and assumptions about the Walmart Health center that are not confirmed facts. The analysis regarding Walmart’s withdrawal from health centers does not necessarily imply a withdrawal from clinical trials. Readers should verify facts independently.

Walmart’s foray into the healthcare sector through establishing Walmart Health centers and the Walmart Healthcare Research Institute signaled a bold attempt to integrate retail operations into direct healthcare delivery and clinical trials. The company sought to leverage its extensive retail presence to make healthcare more accessible, especially in underserved areas, while also expanding into the digital health and clinical research domains. This approach mirrored Walmart’s overarching strategy of accessibility and affordability, targeting a sector ripe for innovation. However, despite notable growth in their Health & Wellness segment and strategic expansions, Walmart’s withdrawal from the healthcare landscape (and presumably also clinical trials) raises pertinent questions about the viability of retail giants transforming healthcare delivery and clinical trials.

Walmart Health Center and its History With Clinical Trials

Walmart officially entered the healthcare sector in 2019 by opening its first Walmart Health center in Dallas, Georgia. The launch marked the beginning of a significant expansion into offering comprehensive healthcare services directly to communities, particularly focusing on underserved areas. Walmart Health centers provided various services, including primary and urgent care, labs, x-rays, dental, optical, and counseling services. They aimed to make healthcare more affordable and accessible, aligning with the company’s broader market strategy of low prices and convenience​.

Since then, Walmart Health grew, opening more centers primarily in the Southeastern U.S., and also delved into telehealth services by acquiring MeMD in May 2021, further expanding its reach into virtual care. This move was part of a broader strategy to integrate digital health services, especially significant during the COVID-19 pandemic when the demand for such services surged​.

Walmart then entered the clinical trials space in October 2022 with the Walmart Healthcare Research Institute (WHRI) launch. This initiative aimed to improve access to clinical research, emphasizing inclusivity, especially in underrepresented communities, and delivering safer, higher-quality, and more equitable healthcare research solutions. This was also the case with CVS in May 2021 (who shuttered the initiative two years later), Walgreens in June 2022, and then Kroger in January 2023.

Walmart’s Health & Wellness sales grew by 8.76% from 2021-2022 and 17.83% from 2022-2023 (to nearly $55 million), and it’s most recent quarterly report indicates strong pharmacy sales were driven by an increase in prescription counts, a greater proportion of branded versus generic prescriptions, robust immunization rates, and inflation in branded drug prices.

Walmarts revenue reports Form 10 K 2024

However, on April 30, 2024, Walmart announced it would shutter the Walmart Health center, and speculatively also the ability to conduct clinical trials, given that these centers possess the necessary infrastructure for clinical research conduct. This decision suggests that the growth and profitability of the Walmart Health centers may not have met the company’s broader corporate objectives or could reflect a strategic realignment, despite the observed overall growth in the health and wellness sector.

What Do Industry and Experts Leaders Think?

The recent closure of Walmart Health’s clinics and its virtual care services has cast a somber shadow over the aspirations of integrating retail giants into the healthcare and clinical trials sector. Industry leaders and experts express disappointment and contemplation as they digest the implications of Walmart’s decision. Many are questioning the sustainability of such business models within retail, especially given the challenges highlighted by Walmart’s experience, such as pricing strategies, recruitment and retention of medical staff, and the complexity of healthcare contracts. The ambition to transform retail spaces into hubs for clinical trials and comprehensive healthcare seemed promising as a means to expand access, particularly in underserved areas. However, Walmart’s retreat prompts a reevaluation of how such large-scale operations align with healthcare services’ intricate, regulation-heavy landscape. This turn of events has left many pondering the future role of retail in healthcare innovation and access, signaling a cautious reassessment of expectations for similar ventures by other retail entities in the clinical trials and healthcare market.

Giants Enter and Exit All the Time

Walmart’s recent exit from the healthcare and clinical trials space is reminiscent of Amazon’s foray and subsequent withdrawal from the restaurant delivery service. Both giants ventured outside their traditional business models, seeking to leverage their vast infrastructures to disrupt well-established industries—healthcare for Walmart and food delivery for Amazon. In each case, despite the initial promise of transforming access (healthcare access in rural areas for Walmart and food delivery market reach for Amazon), both companies struggled to secure a sustainable foothold.

Amazon Restaurants aimed to compete with entrenched players like Grubhub, Uber Eats, and DoorDash but ultimately failed to capture sufficient market share, leading to its shutdown. Similarly, Walmart Health, despite its initial ambitious expansion to serve healthcare deserts, could have faced challenges such as staffing, contracting with payers, and the complexities of healthcare regulations, which may have impeded its ability to establish a profitable business model (but we may never know the true reason for its exit). The exits of both Walmart and Amazon from these ventures reflect the difficulties large retail-oriented companies face when integrating into sectors where operational expertise and specialized market strategies are crucial for success.

The aftermath of Amazon’s exit from the restaurant delivery service temporarily affected investor sentiment, making stakeholders wary about the viability of similar new entrants disrupting established markets. However, existing players who have established themselves received additional funding. Walmart’s departure from healthcare might similarly influence perceptions around the practicality and potential success of retail giants diversifying into specialized and heavily regulated fields like healthcare and clinical trials. Both examples highlight the challenges of market adaptation and the importance of industry-specific nuances in determining major corporations’ success in diversification strategies.

Walmart’s Exit Might be a Good Thing for Existing Players in Clinical Trials

Walmart’s decision to exit the healthcare delivery sector (and presumably also the clinical trials industry) could catalyze invigorating existing players, especially established clinical study sites and decentralized clinical trial (DCT) providers. This retreat by a major retail player reduces competition, potentially redirecting funding and resources toward traditional brick-and-mortar and independent clinical research facilities. This shift could lead to enhanced investment opportunities for specialized research entities, particularly in rural and underserved areas, where Walmart has a notable presence. Consolidating clinical trial opportunities not only promises a more focused allocation of resources but also augments the appeal of dedicated clinical research operations to investors who value specialized, high-quality research endeavors over the broader, less specialized approaches seen in retail-based health services.

Moreover, the burgeoning field of DCTs stands to gain significantly from Walmart’s departure. As the clinical trial landscape increasingly shifts towards remote and patient-centric models, the demand for advanced DCT solutions is expected to escalate. DCT companies can capitalize on this opportunity by expanding their technological offerings and strengthening their market position, attracting substantial investor interest. This market realignment could surge investor confidence and funding, emphasizing clinical trials’ intricate and specialized nature.


The recent announcement that Walmart will close its health centers and potentially cease its clinical trial efforts marks a pivotal moment in the healthcare industry, particularly for clinical trials. This decision could recalibrate the competitive landscape, potentially benefiting traditional and specialized clinical trial entities. As Walmart exits, it leaves a gap that could lead to increased investments and enhancements in clinical research facilities and decentralized clinical trial technologies, which are more aligned with current trends toward patient-centric research models. The shift could foster a more robust funding environment, as investors might now be more inclined to support ventures that demonstrate a focused and expert approach to clinical trials rather than broad retail-based health initiatives. Ultimately, Walmart’s retreat could highlight the complexities of integrating retail with healthcare and clinical research, prompting a more cautious but potentially more fruitful investment approach in the specialized realms of healthcare delivery and clinical trials.


Walmart has clarified their ongoing commitment to healthcare innovation through the Walmart Healthcare Research Institute (WHRI). The company confirmed that clinical trials were not conducted in Walmart Health centers. This clarification reinforces Walmart’s dedication to expanding their core businesses and introducing new health programs alongside their existing services. Walmart emphasizes its strategy of continual innovation aimed at enhancing customer well-being. This update is provided to ensure transparency and prevent any misinterpretations or speculation regarding Walmart’s healthcare initiatives.

author avatar
Moe Alsumidaie Chief Editor
Moe Alsumidaie is Chief Editor of The Clinical Trial Vanguard. Moe holds decades of experience in the clinical trials industry. Moe also serves as Head of Research at CliniBiz and Chief Data Scientist at Annex Clinical Corporation.