CVS Health Corporation is a US retail pharmacy. It was founded by Stanley and Sidney Goldstein and their partner Ralph Hoagland in 1963, and was originally known as Consumer Value Stores (CVS). The business began life as health and beauty stores, but within several years, pharmacies were added. In recent times, a new CEO, Larry Merlo has been appointed and in November 2018, CVS were involved in a $70 billion acquisition of insurance giant Aetna. This merging of a giantpharmacy chain and large insurance business will inevitably result in the reduction of healthcare costs.
Larry Merlo has grand plans for the newly merged company. He plans to shift the companies focus away from retail significantly. Slowing the business to concentrate more on health care. This new strategy includes the concept of offering medical services alongside prescription drugs, and other health products. CVS plans to revolutionise healthcare in the US putting the patients (consumers) at the centre instead of the doctors, hospitals and other health care providers.
CVS Plans for the future
In the first instance, CVS is concentrating its focus on the management of five common chronic conditions:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Behavioral health
CVS screening services
CVS also plans to offer comprehensive screening services in which they will be able to identify and help people manage these chronic diseases. They plan to do his by coordinating with physicians, and other health care providers, by using the latest technological advancements to connect advanced modern devices with health screenings to predict and prevent major health events before they happen (for example pre-diabetes symptoms). Aetna.com explains that this will be done remotely by monitoring key health vitals and by helping to ensure patients with chronic diseases take their medications as prescribed, which will ultimately improve the patient’s health and avoid costly adverse events.
In an interview with CNBC, Larry Merlo, CEO of CVS advised that there will be a pilot of clinical programs at the new concept stores. The pilot will allow CVS to determine which programs are the most effective and best suited to roll out across all of CVS’s locations. The combination of a well planned clinical program together with the medicine support which will be offered by CVS will result in a reduction of avoidable hospital readmissions.
CVS working in partnership with family physicians
One significant development is the way in which CVS can work in conjunction with physicians. Whilst the services of physicians will always be essential, the clinics offered by CVS can offer many services to support the family physician and offer patients peace of mind. Pharmacies have extended opening hours, for example, and are open during weekends. CVS is not aiming to replace the services of the family physician, in fact, one service which They has accidentally become providers of, is providing patients with lists of local doctors. There are huge numbers of people who have never registered with a family physician, and it is only when they drop into a CVS clinic that they finally recognize the need to register.
Ultimately, CVS are striving to have a service where their patients physicians can be notified of treatments and information given to the patient. This joining up of services will ensure patients can treat the clinic as an extension of the doctor’s office where patient records can be accessed, so that care is fully coordinated. This will require strong relationships to be built between he clinics and the physicians.
Private consultation rooms
CVS services are provided in private consulting rooms. The testing service means that where patients test positive for the strep or flu, the pharmacist can provide access to the necessary medication there and then. This means that the patient is often treated quicker than if the had to wait to see their family physician. CVS are, at present, the largest provider of walk-in clinics in the whole of the US, with more than fifty per cent of the US population living within ten miles of a MinuteClinic. CVS have ambitious plans to continue with their innovation and constant improvement of the patient experience. They will do this through the expansion of their MinuteClinic service. The majority of services offered in MinuteClinics cost less than $100. This is as much as 90 percent cheaper than urgent-care centers and hospital emergency departments. Millions of patients are now depending on CVS for the provision of accessible and affordable health care services.
CVS MinuteClinics offers more services than the typical CVS pharmacy. The clinics are staffed by nurse practitioners and physician assistants. They specialize in family health care and are capable of diagnosing, treating and writing prescriptions for common illnesses such as ear, eye, sinus, bladder and bronchial infections. The clinic staff can also help with issues such as minor wounds, sprains, birth control care, and even cosmetic services such as eyelash lengthening. Detroit free press mentions that CVS also offer an excellent vaccination service. Vaccinations are administered by registered nurse practitioners in the CVS MinuteClinics and staff follow strict vaccine protocol which includes checking the temperature of the refrigeration storage system twice a day to ensure inoculation effectiveness.
One particularly beneficial service offered by the CVS clinics, is the flu shots. The flu vaccine is the most effective way to prevent the flu. It is considered a preventive service under the Affordable Care Act. The vaccination is available through most insurance plans. With more than 9,800 CVS Pharmacy locations and 1,100 walk-in MinuteClinic locations accepting most insurance plans, CVS Pharmacy has made vaccinations quick, easy and accessible for patients. The flu vaccine protects both the individual and all those who are vulnerable, such as babies and young children, older people, and people with certain chronic health conditions. Flu shots are available seven days a week, with no appointment necessary at CVS Pharmacies.
Patient Care Services
The 3,000+ nurse practitioners and physician assistants who work at MinuteClinic locations are dedicated to providing a service of care that’s not only convenient and affordable, but which also helps people on their path to better health. This is at the heart of what the dedicated team at CVS do each and every day.
MinuteClinic Virtual Care Program
In 2018, CVS took another major step forward in reach more people and providing expert care. They launched the MinuteClinic Virtual Care platform. This provides patients with high quality care via an app or website. This service connects patients to certified health care providers. They can have video appointments to address minor illnesses, injuries and skin conditions. Consultations are as low as $59, much less than a typical doctor visit. The beauty of 5is service, is that it is available twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. Based on this initial consultation, a Video Call may lead on to an in-person appointment.
CVS have developed a video game for treating ADHD. A clinical trial of children with ADHD suggests that prescribing them with tailor-made video games could help control their condition.
One other way that CVS is adding to their availability of health services is with the provision of some denial services. They have opened the SmileDirectClub inside six CVS stores, where people will be able to have invisible aligners fitted. This is in the experimental stage, but if it is successful it will allow people to improve their smile conveniently in their local MinuteClinic. It is not inconceivable to think that success of this experiment will lead on to more comprehensive dental services being offered in the clinics, moving one step closer to a one stop shop for all your healthcare needs.
CVs clinics will also be set up to offer free wellness classes, such as yoga. This will offer a fantastic community service whilst giving vulnerable people access to healthcare services whilst they attend classes which will promote a healthy lifestyle. CVS are already piloting wellness classes in a set up called the healthHUB. This concept is currently being trialled in three stores, with plans to roll it out if successful.
Care of the Elderly
One massive area of development for CVS is in the care of the elderly. As the population across America ages, there is a massive increase in demand for services which support them, with seventy five percent of older people saying that they intend to live in their current home for the rest of their lives, easy access to healthcare services are more important than ever.
The Evolving Role of the Pharmacist in care of the elderly
A pharmacist is possibly the most accessible member of any patient’s health care team. They provide various services and support, such as health and wellness testing, assistance in managing chronic diseases, medication management, and administering immunizations. Pharmacists can also help identify the potential barriers to the administration of medication. They are well placed to offer help and solutions which will ensure that patients follow their medication routines, this can help reduce costs to the health system.
CVS Health Tools and Services
CVS offers a wide range of tools that help connect the health care system for older Americans and their caregivers. CVS outline the services which they offer, including:
- ScriptSync, is a free support tool designed to allow, patients and caregivers who require multiple medications, to pick up prescriptions at the same time. This means the patient, or their caregiver, can make just one monthly CVS Pharmacy visit.
- Specialty Connect, provides the patient with the option to bring their specialty prescriptions to any CVS Pharmacy. Patients are also given insurance guidance and have access to telephone support from a team of specialty pharmacy experts.
- Pharmacy Advisor is a program for patients who have been diagnosed with chronic conditions. This gives them the option of face-to-face consultations and telephone consultations, together with a prescription delivery service.
- Omnicare extends pharmacy services to seniors in long-term care facilities. This provides medication to help reduce hospital readmission rates and improve the outcome for many elderly residents in care home settings.
CVS is leading the way in home infusion care, parenteral (intravenous) and enteral (tube feeding) nutrition. Home infusion care often offers a high-quality, cost-effective treatment when compared with a hospital or clinic-based setting. CVS is involved in home nutrition care research to advance the knowledge of health care practitioners and improve the care of patients. Research involves the evaluation of the impact of transitioning nutrition care from the hospital to the home and the benefits of home-based parenteral and enteral nutrition.
CVS is also involved in an evaluation of interventions related to complications from a stone, to understand if providing specially trained clinicians is beneficial in reducing stoma site complications and improving the experience for home enteral nutrition patients.
CVS is also supporting research into a study to better understand the population of patients who can benefit from home-based blenderized tube feeding, which involves pureeing and mixing together whole foods before administering them via the patient’s feeding tube.
Is CVS the best form of healthcare? Could you go without a physician.
Harvard University researchers maintain that clinics such as those operated by CVS provide an excellent service for short-term illness or as a back-up when you can’t see your doctor. However Harvard suggests that they should never act as a replacement for a primary care physician. “Going to a retail clinic is fine for minor issues like a flu shot or a sore throat, particularly if you’re generally healthy,” says Dr. Mehrotra, Harvard.
What you should bring to a consultation in a CVS clinic
Bring a complete list of your medications with you.
- Be able to give a detailed account of your medical history and any other health conditions you have.
- Ask the clinic to send information about your visit to your doctor.
- Make a follow-up appointment with your physician.
In Conclusion, the CVS clinics have the potential to revolutionaries healthcare in the US. Patients will be able to drop into a clinic without an appointment and access most services., including vaccinations, cardiovascular tests, diabetes monitoring to name but a few. Patients will be able to attend wellness classes in the same clinic, hosting a community hub, where they will also be able to seek healthcare advice on a wide range of issues. Ideally as the system develops, patients physicians will be informed and the clinic will link up with the patients medical records. People will welcome this service as the majority of people have a CVS facility on their doorstep. This will also alleviate some of the strain currently placed on physicians, particularly where minor complaints are concerned.
CVS Health is dedicated to helping people stay on their path to better health. Whether at a consultation in one of its pharmacies or through its health services and plans, CVS Health is pioneering a bold new approach to total health by making quality care more affordable and accessible than ever. CVS Health is community-based and locally focused, it is dedicated to giving patients the care they need when and where they need it. The Company has more than 9,800 retail locations, approximately 1,100 walk-in medical clinics, a leading pharmacy benefits manager with approximately 93 million plan members, a dedicated senior pharmacy care business serving more than one million patients per year, expanding specialty pharmacy services, and a leading prescription drug plan. CVS Health also serves an estimated 39 million people through traditional, voluntary and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services. This fabulous innovative health care model increases access to high quality care. It delivers much better health outcomes and significantly lowers overall health care costs.
Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker