Walmart is the latest retail company to enter the clinical trial space.
The Bentonville, Arkansas-based company announced the launch of the Walmart Research Institute on Tuesday.
The institute aims to increase access to healthcare research and medicines and for patients to learn about research opportunities that may be right for them. Walmart said it is not going to conduct clinical trials but rather will partner with clinical research organizations, academic centers, pharmaceutical and biotech companies and health systems.
Patients will be able to participate through Walmart’s new digital health app, My Health Journey, where they can access nearby research studies. The app will also include patients’ medical records, insurance information and reminders for preventive care services, Walmart said in a release.
“We know our customers are interested in participating in healthcare research, but many have not had access until now. We are already making an impact for our customers and for medical research, by raising patient trust and engagement in their care,” Dr. John Wigneswaran, Walmart’s chief medical officer, said in a prepared statement.
As part of the rollout, Walmart said it has partnered with clinical research organization, CTI Clinical Trial & Consulting Services and virtual clinical trial company, Laina Enterprises.
Walmart joins CVS and Walgreens as bigger retail companies are increasingly entering the clinical trial space. Walgreens launched a clinical trial business in June, saying it would use a decentralized clinical trial platform and in-person locations to recruit for and conduct clinical trials. CVS Health launched a clinical trial division in May 2021, and in February said it was teaming with Medable for a virtual component.
“For ages, clinical trials have not been very patient-centric,” said Josh Rose, CVS’s head of decentralized clinical trials, to Digital Health Business & Technology. “They were typically done at academic medical centers or research sites that are far away from the communities they serve. They were done in a very manual way in brick-and-mortar settings. Because of that, it was challenging for patients to participate.”
According to a study published in Perspectives in Clinical Research, 80% of trials fail to enroll patients on time, resulting in an extension of study and or addition of new study sites.