In the organization’s first-ever health trends report, CVS Health has highlighted a kidney care revolution, a digital health transformation, and cost transparency as some of the key industry movements set for the year ahead.
In its “Health Trends 2020” report, leaders at CVS Health—an organization that completed a $69 billion acquisition of health insurer Aetna a little more than a year ago—outline six of the trends most likely to transform the industry in the year ahead—and what leaders and consumers can do to prepare for them today. Those six trends are:
A coming revolution in kidney care
Despite the high prevalence of chronic kidney disease— about 15 percent of U.S. adults are affected —awareness of having the disease is low compared with other chronic conditions, according to CVS Health. The way forward, officials note, will be to innovate in prevention and early detection. To this end, “New efforts in predictive analytics may identify people at high risk of kidney disease and those at risk of getting worse. Evidence shows that catching the disease earlier can lead to better management, fewer complications and lower costs,” the company stated.
More scrutiny in the self-care market
Americans are more and more taking control of their own health, and part of that trend includes a wider use of dietary supplements. But consumers have concerns about these products, and this is an area in which retailers could help, CVS Health believes. The organization’s recently rolled-out “Tested to Be Trusted” program requires that supplements sold by the company — some 1,400 products — undergo third-party testing for a wide range of metrics.
The digital revolution digs in
Healthcare has undoubtedly lagged in its ability to leverage data for more informed decision making, with two big reasons for that being a lack of interoperability and medical data that far too often exists in silos. But CVS Health leaders believe that change is forthcoming. “Algorithms can help pinpoint the best time to remind patients to take a medication, giving a boost to adherence. They can help navigate patients through follow-up and insurance issues. And a new generation of wearable medical devices — expected to double in use by 2022 — deliver a stream of data points that promise to transform care,” they write.
Rethinking the outposts of community care
Underserved Americans are more likely to go without preventive measures or wait until an illness gets serious before seeking help, which is one reason that the gap in life expectancy between rich and poor is growing. What’s more, many of these folks live in parts of the country with fewer hospitals and primary care physicians, so preventative care needs to find a way to come to them. One promising idea, according to CVS Health, is to deliver more services at retail outposts, including pharmacies and retail clinics. The organization has already done work in this area, as officials cite its Project Health initiative that offers free screenings in underserved communities.
A dose of connection
Across various age groups, U.S. adults are feeling lonelier and more socially isolated than in the past, and this can have a significant impact on one’s health and well-being. “The problem needs to be solved community by community, but major players in healthcare can’t stand by while that happens,” note CVS Health leaders. As such, CVS has explored screening for loneliness at its MinuteClinic locations, and certain CVS HealthHUBs will make meeting rooms available for community events. Aetna has also developed a Social Isolation Index to help estimate each Medicare member’s risk of social isolation.
Where cost transparency works
A recent national poll from CVS Health found that 79 percent of Americans are concerned about prescription drug costs and how they will affect their families’ budgets. According to company officials, “One potential solution for this complex problem has been to make prices more readily available to consumers. With more transparency around out-of-pocket prices, the public can make smarter choices about their treatments and providers, just as they would when shopping for groceries or an airline ticket.”