Large employers launch telemedicine program to tackle Black health
A patient at Walmart Health
Walmart, the nation’s largest employer, is joining with telemedicine firm Grand Rounds and Doctor on Demand to launch a targeted program to tackle health disparities among African American workers.
Lisa Woods (Walmart’s vice-president of physical and psychological wellbeing) said, “We have almost 300,000. Black and African American employees and approximately 50% of our workforce are made up of people of colour. So we spend quite some time thinking about how we can impact and create change here.”
Walmart is part of a group of large employers, including Target, Best Buy, Medtronic and State Farm, that are spearheading a new initiative called the Black Community Innovation Coalition in partnership with Grand Rounds and Doctor on Demand. The group has more than 500,000 African American employees.
“Obviously the events in the country over the last few years have hastened our desire to come up with a commercial grade solution,” said Owen Tripp, CEO of the newly merged Grand Rounds and Doctor on Demand, noting that the Covid pandemic has put a spotlight on the serious consequences that can arise from Black health disparities.
It will include outreach and resource integration to address problems such as Black maternal fetal and primary care access, and mental health. The program builds on an inclusive health program that was launched in 2020 in order to meet the needs of LGBTQ workers. This, the companies claim, has led to increased participation.
Grand Rounds’ Dr. Ian Tong is the executive director of the Black Community Innovation Coalition.
The market for employer telemedicine plans has become increasingly competitive, with Amazon‘s new Amazon Care service, industry leader Teladoc, hospitals and health insurers all vying to offer integrated virtual primary care services for large employers.
Grand Rounds and Doctor on Demand believe that its diversity of doctors will help to bridge the gap for those of color who might be skeptical about the system.
Tong says, “Our doctor practice is nearly 50% Black, Indigenous or People of Color; 21% are Black, and 20% are LGBTQ.”
In 2022, the new initiative will begin to offer specific services.