CVS-Aetna could be a shot in the arm for connected care

Dec. 8, 2017

A merger of CVS and Aetna will ratchet up competition among healthcare giants to provide better care and a better customer experience through digital technologies, including remote care and patient support tools that can keep patients on their meds as directed. DRG Digital’s Manhattan Research surveys of U.S. patients, physicians, and payers illuminate the consumer engagement strategy underpinning CVS’ move—and the opportunities it creates for potential partners elsewhere in the healthcare ecosystem.

  • One-stop shopping means a better healthcare consumer experience: CVS aims to make its retail pharmacy stores a new “front door” for our fragmented healthcare system—one where its customers can fill prescriptions, talk to a pharmacist about a rash or pop into a video consult with a doctor. 42% of U.S. adults say being able to take care of most of their healthcare needs in one place is “very important” to having a good experience (Manhattan Research, Cybercitizen Health 2017). Even more important: Affordability of services, which 58% rate as very important to the healthcare customer experience.
  • Bricks and mortar meets virtual care: The number of patients reporting use of virtual consults grew at a healthy 20% clip over the past year, with 24% of U.S. adults saying they have used such a service—and more than half of those who haven’t interested in doing so (Manhattan Research, Cybercitizen Health 2017). The number one reason patients use virtual consults? To renew a prescription (DRG Digital, Cybercitizen Health 2016), which fits into CVS’ business model.
  • Big ambitions for remote monitoring and digital adherence support: CVS has also indicated that it plans to use the emerging ecosystem of digital tools for keeping tabs on patients post-discharge and helping them stay adherent with medical regimens, much as rival UnitedHealth’s Optum has done. There will be white space here for drug and device companies as well as technology firms that can provide digital solutions that improve patient outcomes. Users of digital adherence tools are substantially less likely than those using paper calendars and pill boxes to report forgetting to take their meds (Manhattan Research, ePharma Consumer 2017), and payers will favor products with proven impact on adherence—65% of P&T committee members would grant favorable formulary status to a prescription drug bundled with a patient support tool that helps patients stay on track (Manhattan Research, Multichannel Payer Marketing 2017).
  • Costs are top of mind for U.S. consumers: 43% of U.S. online adults say their health expenses have risen compared to 2 years ago, and among those whose costs went up, 30% have changed lifestyle habits in order to stay healthy and avoid increasing costs (Manhattan Research, Cybercitizen Health 2017). An important component of CVS’ play is to offer Aetna enrollees wellness and prevention services through its retail pharmacy stores, while using its mammoth scale to hold down drug costs.

PR Newswire has the full article

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