Dollar General Squares Off Against Amazon, Walmart in Rural Healthcare Pilot

Dollar General

Retail healthcare is reaching deeper into rural America as Dollar General tests the waters in offering affordable care.

“We’re excited to pilot new mobile health clinics with services provided by DocGo On-Demand to provide services including annual physicals, acute illness, urgent care needs, vaccinations, and lab testing,” Dr. Albert Wu, Dollar General’s chief medical officer, said in an email sent to PYMNTS.

“These clinics demonstrate our ability and desire to work with our customers to bring affordable health and wellness closer to home while equally establishing Dollar General as a trusted partner where customers can access health services,” he said.

To start, the three pilot locations are all in the vicinity of Dollar General’s Goodlettsville, Tennessee headquarters, but also mark a footprint expansion for DocGo.

“We’re thrilled to expand our existing footprint in Nashville and reach new patients by partnering with a nationally- recognized company like Dollar General,” said Aaron Severs, chief product officer at DocGo, adding that accessibility and providing care to patients where and when they need it most was the company’s primary goal.

See also: Dollar General Says Value and Convenience Bring Customers to Stores

To be sure, the shift to increase exposure to healthcare is not new for Dollar General as it has been a part of the retailer’s playbook for the 18 months since it announced it would expand its healthcare product selection as the start of a broader expansion into a retail healthcare movement that now includes Amazon, Walmart, Walgreens and others.

The dollar store discounter is leveraging its massive retail presence, particularly in underserved rural areas, and tiptoeing into waters already being plied by Amazon and its One Medical acquisition, Walmart partnering with UnitedHealth Group for walk-in clinics powered by Optum capabilities, and CVS now reportedly mulling a $10B acquisition of Oak Street Health to bolster its MinuteClinics.

On its Q3 2022 earnings call in December, Dollar General CEO Jeff Owen teased the news, saying, “we launched a pilot of a mobile health clinic provided by DocGo On-Demand to provide basic preventative and urgent care services at a small number of stores in Q3. We plan to test this offering in select stores over the next few months as we continue to work with customers on how to help bring affordable health and wellness closer to home, while further establishing Dollar General as a trusted health partner in the local community.”

See also: Report: CVS Considering $10B Purchase of Oak Street Health

The linkup with DocGo On-Demand is the latest addition to the initiative that’s been in the works since 2021.

At that time, Dollar General noted in a statement that over 75% of the U.S. population lives within five miles of a DG location, saying “the Company recognizes the unique access it provides to rural communities often underserved by other retailers as well as the existing healthcare ecosystem. The Company’s commitment to expanding its health offerings is underpinned by its existing infrastructure, robust supply chain, and current complementary health and nutrition assortment.”

When DG outlined first its well-being push, it said, “Among other things, this will include an increased assortment of cough and cold, dental, nutritional, medical, health aids and feminine hygiene products across many of its Dollar General stores.”

The retailer has since been deepening its mix of health and wellness products into OTC digestive and sleep aid, as well as vitamins and supplements, among other categories.

In the January statement, DG said, “Dollar General and DocGo plan to evaluate customer response and determine the feasibility of expanding this offering to additional stores.”