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The chain’s move is an attempt to increase relationships with traditionally-loyal pharmacy patients.
CVS Health’s recently-announced expansion of HealthHub stores to include dietitians, chronic disease monitoring, and community rooms for yoga classes, is part of the pharmacy chains ongoing efforts to position itself as a company specializing in aspects of healthcare beyond pharmacy.
CVS will open 1,500 HealthHUBs-redesigned CVS drugstores that include more health services and products-nationally by the end of 2021.
The move is just one of many CVS has made in recent years as it attempts to position itself as a one-stop-shop for healthcare, hoping to transform its business model beyond medication dispensing.
“This direction of expansion certainly represents a new dimension for business growth. For CVS consumers, the increased focus on maintenance health issues and the benefit of having a locally available, face-to-face interaction is often associated with higher adherence rates and improved outcomes,” says Patricia Milazzo, RPH BA, senior director, embedded content, Clinical Effectiveness, Wolters Kluwer, Health.
“Patients on long-term maintenance medications usually frequent one pharmacy and have a good relationship with their local pharmacists,” Milazzo says. “This team-based approach to a long-term medical condition bridges parts of the continuum of care and has the potential to better harmonize patient care. While many insurance companies are ramping up telemedicine offerings and covering FaceTime consults as an additional model, in-store healthcare seems like a logical extension on the brick and mortar side. CVS stands to reap the potential benefits of enhanced pharmacy and retail business as well as added medical insurance income.”
Healthcare executives will need to re-evaluate reimbursement strategies, according to Milazzo. “Medical benefits as well as prescription benefits will have to be flexible to address the different models,” she says. “This could signal a shift away from the traditional ‘in-network’ reimbursement model for both physician and pharmacy benefit to more of a focus on value, at least that would be the hope. What remains to be seen is whether this could potentially shift the PBMs’ models of limited pharmacy networks and also whether this leads to a closer relationship to the medical benefit.”
Considering the unexpected developments and new players in even the last five years, the long-term impacts are equally hard to predict given a number of factors in play, according to Milazzo. “Will insurance reimbursement for both medical and pharmacy evolve in response to this trend, especially considering new complications of scenarios such as a pharmacy that is out-of-network coupled with a physician who is in-network? And will health consumers proceed to buy drugs and over-the-counter medications while they are there instead of taking out their phone to order through a virtual market disruptor such as Amazon? That too remains to be seen,” she says.