It wasn’t so long ago that CVS was just another pharmacy chain. One of many in fact. In 2019 however it is becoming a great deal more than that. Already the country’s largest pharmacy chain CVS is now making the move into offering onsite healthcare, thanks in large part to the company’s acquisition of Aetna last year.
Now that CVS is the parent company of the insurer, it has taken on the responsibility of overseeing healthcare for over 22 million people. As a part of this new venture the company now plans to begin creating ‘healthcare hubs’ in CVS stores across the country, beginning with three trial centers that are already up and running in Texas.
Wellness Close(r) to Home
CVS first began talking about the creation of healthcare hubs back in 2017 when their bid for Aetna was still under consideration. At the time, when appearing on an NPR radio show CVS CEO Larry Merlo asked the host to imagine a place where ” a patient can walk into a CVS pharmacy, they can engage with a nutritionist about their diet. They can talk to a nurse practitioner, perhaps have their blood glucose level checked, talk to their pharmacist about medication.”
The company already operates mini ‘Minute Clinics’ around the country, but the healthcare hubs, like the ones operating in Texas, offer a great deal more. There are yoga classes and basic wellness education sessions, and a ‘care concierge’ is available to help customers with all kinds of health concerns, from finding the right over the counter medications to consulting with a nurse practitioner, a dietitian, a respiratory therapist heading to a lab where they can have blood drawn.
One of the advantages some customers see of making use of the centers for basic healthcare is the easy proximity to their homes. CVS is such a large chain at this point that it is said that 90% of Americans are within four miles of a store, and for some that is a lot closer, and more easily accessible, than visiting a primary care doctor that is often further away. The fact that the clinics offer very flexible hours is another boon, especially for those who simply cannot take time off work to visit a doctor during office hours.
CVS expects these new clinics will help keep some Aetna patients out of the hospital and allow the health insurance side of the company to avoid the high costs of hospital care but says says the health care services will be available to patients with any kind of insurance.
The company won’t say how many stores it plans to convert to health hubs, as the company first wants to see how it goes in three Texas trial locations. But it will be interesting to see how this new venture unfolds.