- Dr. Cheryl Pegus, former chief medical officer of Walgreens, has been appointed Walmart’s executive vice president of health and wellness, the retailer announced in a press release on Monday.
- Pegus joins Walmart from Cambia Health Solutions, a nonprofit healthcare company where she was chief medical officer and president of consumer health solutions. Her career has also included work at Pfizer and Aetna, as a cardiologist and as the first chief medical officer of Walgreens.
- A current board member of the American Heart Association and a past board chair of the Association of Black Cardiologists, Pegus is a co-founder of A New Beat, an educational initiative to promote women and minorities in the field of cardiology. She will start at Walmart on Dec. 21.
Walmart is looking to be a major disruptor in the pharmacy and health care space, having launched its national expansion of Walmart Health in September of this year after a successful Georgia pilot. According to the company, the health clinics are meant to be affordable, factoring in baseline healthcare costs in the region, patient demographics and area health needs. The retailer has said it plans to open at least 22 of its health locations by the end of 2021.
Walmart also launched its health insurance services in October, selling Medicare plans, which analysts predict will pose a long-term threat to existing insurance brokers, particularly in the Medicare Advantage space.
Job losses caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic have left millions of Americans without health insurance coverage and almost a third of U.S. workers had logged some kind of medical debt even before the onset of the pandemic, with that statistic likely to have grown since then. Given its emphasis on affordability and community service, which Pegus’s background also points to, Walmart’s health care expansion could be motivated in part by a desire to foster goodwill and build brand loyalty among U.S. residents.
Pegus’s former employer Walgreens, along with pharmacy chain CVS, are two of Walmart’s most formidable competitors, and the big box store has made investments this year to try to outpace them in innovation. The company said it is piloting drone deliveries of at-home COVID-19 test kits, and, according to SVB Leerink, Walmart’s clinics are priced between 35% to 40% less than CVS HealthHUBs. CVS’s network of clinics is far more expansive, however, and the company plans to open 1,500 HealthHUBs by the end of 2021.