Whole Foods founder and CEO John Mackey is nothing if not outspoken. Among other things he called Obama fascist. So it’s interesting that he seems to be maneuvering Whole Foods into the health care space. For a start, he’s inviting Whole Foods employees to a “Total Health Immersion” program that emphasizes weight loss. Next there may be plans in the works for employee medical clinics.
The final and most intriguing idea is to have clinics for customers as well. Of course other stores, especially pharmacies, have urgent care clinics already. These are typically staffed by nurse practitioners and overlap with primary care and emergency room services. Some supermarkets are experimenting with similar urgent care clinics, too, as extensions of in-store pharmacies. These are problematic since they are essentially inviting contagious customers into the store where they may be tempted to pick up some fresh produce on the way out, potentially infecting other shoppers!
Presumably Whole Foods would do something different. As far as I know they don’t have pharmacies, so we should not expect a pharmacy + model like a typical urgent care clinic. It sounds like the offering would be more like a diet, nutrition and lifestyle coaching center. That might have a certain appeal, but it’s pretty far removed from healthcare delivery.February 4, 2015