As the retail healthcare battles heat up, Walmart is losing one of its leaders in that effort, after only two years. The Bentonville, Arkansas-based retail chain said that Sean Slovenski, SVP and president for Walmart U.S. health and wellness, is leaving the company.
No reason was given, nor an exact date of departure.
“Sean and I have been discussing this transition the past several weeks, as he and his team have successfully stood up the strategy we hired him to create,” said Walmart President and CEO John Furner in an Aug. 4 memo to Walmart’s U.S.-based employees. “We will share more information about a new leader of the health and wellness team in the coming weeks.”
Furner credited Slovenski with helping the retailer’s pandemic response. “Sean’s organization also led the rollout of COVID-19 testing sites across the country during a historic time for our company,” Furner said.
Walmart Health care Efforts
Furner gave no indication that Walmart would back down from its recent health care expansion efforts — part of general push by the retailer to gain ground on Amazon and other rivals, and to build a wider ecosystem that also includes mobile apps and commerce, online retail, and a potential Prime-like subscription service.
In fact, in recent weeks Walmart — which has the scale to potentially make a major impact on U.S. health care and how it’s delivered — has said that it would expand its health centers to Florida and Illinois after launches in Georgia and Arkansas. The centers offer key health care services at low, transparent services, regardless of whether patients are insured, and are co-located with the retailer's supercenters.
“The combined crises of the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic recession and subsequent loss of health insurance for millions of Americans have reinforced the vulnerabilities of our health care system,” Slovenski said in a blog post. “At Walmart, we understand that this means our customers need us now, more than ever. We don’t take this responsibility lightly and are committed to helping our customers save money while living better – and healthier.
Retail Health care Expansion
Slovenski leaves as Walmart is cutting corporate jobs, layoffs attributed in part to the further merging of physical and online retail operations. “We are continuing on our journey to create an omnichannel organization within our Walmart U.S. business, and we’re making some additional changes,” Walmart spokeswoman Jami Lamontagne recently told CNBC.
Slovenski’s departure also comes as other retailers — including Amazon — continue to make major health care plays, and to improve their pharmacy and wellness operations.
Seattle-based Amazon, for instance, recently announced it would open health care clinics for warehouse workers, an effort that comes as the company continues to build out its prescription delivery service via PillPack — which Amazon bought a little more than a year ago — among other work.
Walgreens provides another sign of where things are going with retail health care as Slovenski leaves Walmart.
With use of the Walgreens mobile app surging, the Deerfield, Illinois-based health care retailer recently said it would expand features and add partners to its Walgreens Find Care platform. The launch of additional features and providers on Walgreens Find Care coincides with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to use telehealth to help address medical needs while supporting social distancing.