The combination of CVS Health and Aetna will help reduce consumers’ healthcare costs.
That is according to CVS Health president and CEO Larry Merlo, in remarks at Town Hall Los Angeles, a public forum that has addressed key community issues for more than two decades.
Discussing his vision for bringing transformative change to health care access and delivery, Merlo said that the combined company has the potential to make health care easier to use and less expensive for consumers by strengthening access to care locally, empowering a more connected health care system and helping to prevent and manage costly conditions.
One in three Americans view access to quality care as the most important health priority in their community, and research shows that when people have regular access to primary care, it makes a positive, long-term difference in their health, said Merlo.
He emphasized that the combined company will be able to offer many options to access care in the community at retail pharmacies, clinics, in the home, or through digital tools.
Pointing out that 70% of Americans live within three miles of a CVS Pharmacy, Merlo said the company’s geographic footprint empowers its 36,000 pharmacists, physicians’ assistants and nurse practitioners to guide patients on their medication needs and help them manage care in between doctor visits.
Merlo also discussed how CVS Health will continue to help fill care gaps between visits to the doctor, serving as a complement to traditional primary care. For example, about half of the people who walk into a MinuteClinic don’t have a primary care physician. Because of the company’s commitment to connecting patients to the right care at the right time, CVS Health has formed alliances with more than 70 major health systems across the country.
Patients often must carry medical records with them to the different sites where they receive care, making it difficult to get the full range of coordinated care they need. For people living with an ongoing disease, this is an area that requires improvement. A patient with diabetes will likely see an endocrinologist, a primary care physician and a pharmacist to manage their condition – all at separate sites of care, explained Merlo.
“Better connectivity is needed across the care continuum – at the provider’s office and in the home – to ensure earlier interventions and reduce the likelihood of hospital readmissions,” Merlo said. “By fully integrating Aetna’s medical information and analytics with CVS Health’s pharmacy data and community locations, we will enable more effective and preventative treatment of the whole patient.”
According to Merlo, a key goal of the CVS Health and Aetna combination is to improve population health and, in turn, lower costs through improved management of chronic disease.
Merlo went on to say, “Through our expanded offerings, we’ll have a strengthened community presence with stores, pharmacists and retail clinic practitioners to provide consumers with preventative counseling and guidance. We’ll be there more frequently when consumers living with chronic diseases pick up their medicines – to talk with them face-to-face not just about managing their medications, but also how to better manage their health and well-being.”
CVS Health will also be expanding the use of digital tools to help manage conditions. These tools will help patients seamlessly monitor key indicators, such as blood glucose levels, and then follow-up via text message when results look concerning or require attention, according to Merlo.