Streamlining a New Program for Walmart Health
It has long been Walmart’s mission to help people save money and live better. The Fortune 100 retailer is now bringing this goal to healthcare through Walmart Health.
The retail giant is incorporating 6,500-SF health centers to existing stores, either as expansions or inbox conversions. Through this initiative, they are striving to provide more affordable and accessible healthcare with transparent pricing, regardless of their customers’ insurance status.
No stranger to national development programs, Walmart recognized the need for a streamlined process to identify target locations, strategize permits and approvals, and keep stores operational during construction. The process needed to be scalable in order to develop across a large geographic region while keeping costs in check and maintaining speed-to-market. To make it happen, Walmart needed a partner who understood their goals and operations.
Enter Bohler. For nearly 25 years, Bohler has helped Walmart successfully introduce new programs including grocery additions, fuel stations, and some of the first supercenters. The Bohler team quickly became ingrained in Walmart’s newest development objectives and created opportunities to move the program forward.
Bohler’s early involvement in the program allowed Walmart to develop critical processes to evaluate sites quickly, organize the information, and navigate the many departments within the corporation. Using the team’s knowledge of Walmart’s operations, they helped the retailer create an efficient development model to scale the program and increase the number of health centers built each year. The model includes:
- Market Evaluation: Bohler worked with Walmart’s real estate team to identify sites for the program based on local construction costs, permitting requirements, and estimated timelines.
- Critical Path: Each store chosen for the health center program also underwent a concurrent interior remodel. Once Bohler identified a store that fit the health center criteria, they helped Walmart further evaluate if that store’s remodel schedule should be realigned.
- Design Standards: From site selection through construction administration, Bohler helped Walmart develop and assemble their official Program Criteria Manuals for each project phase.
In managing the program, Bohler was also responsible for external consultant coordination. To improve communication throughout the extended project team, Bohler created a Work Responsibility Plan. The plan outlines clear roles and responsibilities for each external project team member.
Bohler coordinated daily with various Walmart stakeholders; project architects, including Massa Multimedia Architecture (MMA); and the modular building designer, BLOX.
Within Bohler, the team implemented measures to simplify design and promote product consistency and efficiencies. This included sharing plans, processes, and checklists between its regional design teams.
Streamlining a New Program for Walmart Health
Bohler evaluated sites to help Walmart quickly identify stores best suited for the health center expansion. The team provided site analyses, parking ratio evaluation, preliminary plans, and legal discussions around lease agreements. They navigated shopping center restrictions by coordinating with stakeholders including shopping center owners, neighboring tenants, and the jurisdiction.
Engineering Design and Permitting
Bohler used its prior Walmart knowledge and experience to connect sidewalks and utilities to existing conditions and update drainage plans. The team’s efficiencies improved Walmart’s speed-to-market.
Bohler coordinated permitting for parking variances and site modifications. Additionally, the team worked closely with architects to submit building permits. By driving this process for Walmart, Bohler kept projects on schedule.
To mitigate construction challenges, Bohler worked with the contractor early on. Bohler coordinated temporary conditions including fire access routes, temporary staging areas, and pedestrian circulation. The team prepared detailed phasing plans for each project, minimizing disturbance to the store. This collaboration helped construction run smoothly while allowing the store to remain accessible throughout the process.
The opening of the first few Walmart Health facilities in Georgia can attest to the program’s success. So far, the locations have had substantially more patients than expected. By streamlining design, construction, and administrative processes, Walmart is able to lower the cost of healthcare services by approximately 40%.
While Walmart ramps up to launch the program across all major markets, Bohler continues to guide the development of critical processes. By understanding Walmart’s operations and collaborating with key team members, Bohler is creating an opportunity for Walmart to roll out the program on a nationwide scale.
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