CVS Health expands its care reach

ACA, primary care doc shortage, aging population, chronic disease make this telehealth's moment
By Bernie Monegain
10:44 AM

CVS is working with three telehealth companies -- American Well, Doctor On Demand and Teladoc -- on how, together with pharmacies, they might expand and improve patient care.

The move represents an expansion of CVS Health's existing telehealth approach.

"During our initial phase of exploration of telehealth in our store-based clinics, we learned that we could deliver excellent quality care and that patients were extremely satisfied with the care provided," said Andrew Sussman, MD, executive vice president/associate chief medical officer, CVS Health and president, MinuteClinic, in a news release announcing the CVS partnerships.
"As we examine additional ways to utilize telehealth to improve and expand patient care, we have the opportunity to partner with telehealth organizations in the care of patients at home," Sussman added. "In doing so, CVS Health will add value for patients, clients and health plans by improving access to low-cost quality care."

[See also: CVS, Watson confront chronic disease.]

MinuteClinic data recently published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine showed that overall, 95 percent of patients were highly satisfied with the quality of care they received, the ease with which telehealth technology was integrated into the visit, and the timeliness and convenience of their care.

CVS Health is piloting several telehealth opportunities, including making telehealth physician care accessible through CVS Health digital properties.  CVS Health will also explore enabling MinuteClinic providers to consult with telehealth physicians to expand the scope of care offered at MinuteClinic.

In addition, MinuteClinic will continue to provide telehealth care to patients in CVS retail stores and will explore serving as a site for in-person exams to facilitate telehealth medical visits.

"With the increased demand for patient care anticipated in future years as a result of the expansion of coverage through the Affordable Care Act, the primary care physician shortage, aging of the population and epidemic of chronic disease, telehealth gives us the opportunity to offer high quality care to an expanded group of patients in a variety of convenient and cost-effective locations," Sussman said.

"A key pillar of our strategy is forging the right partnerships within the industry," said Brian Tilzer, senior vice president and chief digital officer, CVS Health, in a press statement. "We recognize that some of the best ideas are already being developed, so we're committed to partnering with other companies to explore and expand on these ideas together."