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RadNet inks deal to open diagnostic imaging centers in multiple Walmart locations

Marty Stempniak| December 05, 2023 | Radiology Business |Economics

RadNet Inc. has inked a deal to open diagnostic imaging centers in multiple Walmart locations, the company announced Tuesday morning.

The two giants in their respective industries plan to debut the first “MammogramNow” clinic on Dec. 8 at the supercenter in Milford, Delaware. Two more will follow at Walmart stores in Phoenix and Hanford, California.

RadNet said the pilot program’s goal is to bolster breast health awareness and accessibility. They’ll also utilize artificial intelligence tools from subsidiary DeepHealth, aiming to optimize disease detection without extending appointment times.

“The ability to offer leading-edge hardware, software and AI technologies in a nontraditional healthcare location…like a Walmart supercenter could become a new paradigm for the future of consumer healthcare and preventative medicine,” RadNet President and CEO Howard Berger, MD, said in a Dec. 5 announcement.

RadNet had previously been discussing the possibility of working with Walmart for over a year. One of their leaders lives on the southside of Chicago, and RSNA 2023 presented an opportunity to meet and show off what a potential partnership could look like, Timothy Merchant, national director of screening networks and population health strategy, told Radiology Business. Some of their executives also visited RadNet locations in New York City and walked away “impressed” with the opportunity to improve imaging access for both shoppers and Walmart employees.

Merchant said the agreement offers the possibility to open more MammogramNow locations in additional Walmart locations. The Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer currently operates more than 4,600 stores in the U.S. alone, employing 1.6 million associates.

“About 90% of Americans live within 10 miles of Walmart. So, I think it gives us an opportunity to serve more rural communities,” Merchant said. “I know my family lives in one of those geographies, and the Walmart is really kind of the epicenter of their entire community.”

RadNet and Walmart also have discussed the possibility of expanding services beyond mammography. Clinic footprints offer the opportunity to add a CT scanner, allowing RadNet to also screen for lung cancer, particularly in communities with high smoking rates. One of the key success metrics during the pilot program is attracting enough visits to cover the cost of the service.

“We also have to be very careful with the follow-up there,” Merchant said. “These patients will fall right into our standard protocol to make sure that, when there is a finding and if there is a callback, that we're then able to navigate the patient to appropriate next steps. This is just going to be a screening location, so we’ll need to bring them into a convenient secondary location for an ultrasound, breast MR, or whatever the next step might be.”

The pilot is expected to last 18 months, with opportunities for further expansion prior to that. Merchant said RadNet selected the locations to test the model in different types of markets. Milford, Delaware, is a natural extension of existing services in the region, with another company outpost in nearby Dover. Phoenix, meanwhile, allows RadNet to test the service in an urban market, while Hanford offers a more rural alternative.

Based in Los Angeles, RadNet bills itself as the country’s “leading” provider of free-standing, fixed-site diagnostic imaging services. It operates a total of 366 outpatient imaging centers, spanning core markets including California, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Florida, and Arizona.

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