Walmart Inc. of Bentonville is adding to its portfolio of health care services by working to increase participation from underrepresented populations in health care clinical trials.
Walmart said Tuesday that it started Walmart Healthcare Research Institute SM and will work with a wide range of clinical research organizations, pharmaceutical companies and leading academic medical centers. Organizations it will work with include CTI Clinical Trial & Consulting Services of Covington, Kentucky, and Laina Enterprises of Longwood, Florida. WHRI has already seen a referral rate three times the industry standard, Walmart said.
“Walmart is focused on studies that can have a health equity impact in the communities it serves and represent all populations,” the news release said.
For decades, clinical trials have not been representative and have routinely recruited people who live near research centers, have the time, and have the financial ability to participate, Walmart said. In 2020, 75% of trial participants were white, 11% were Hispanic, 8% were Black, and 6% were Asian, the release said.
The retailer said it can help change the participation in studies because it will be able to recruit from the 90% of Americans who live within 10 miles of a Walmart.
"The efforts by Walmart in research are innovative and impactful – it is clear that the intention behind their foray into this space is to genuinely make a difference for patients of all ages, race and gender in their ability to access research," said Bill Hawkins, chairman of Duke University Health. "This initiative will support individual patient health as well as the health of numerous communities home to Walmart stores."
WHRI will focus on innovative interventions and medications that can make a difference in underrepresented communities including older adults, rural residents, women and minority populations, Walmart said.
Customers who use Walmart’s MyHealthJourney SM, an online service that allows patients to access medical records and insurance information, can receive reminders for care and research opportunities through the application.
"We know our customers are interested in participating in health care research, but many have not had access until now,” Dr. John Wigneswaran, Walmart's chief medical officer, said in the release. “We are already making an impact for our customers and for medical research, by raising patient trust and engagement in their care."
Walmart’s research institute is the company’s latest move into health care. Last month, it announced a 10-year collaboration with health insurer UnitedHealth Group of Minnetonka, Minnesota, to offer services at its growing chain of Walmart Health clinics.