CVS Health set to unveil new, health-focused store format

Six weeks after CVS Health closed its acquisition of health insurer Aetna, efforts to integrate Aetna into the business are already underway.

“While it’s only been six weeks, we are absolutely off and running,” CVS Health president and CEO Larry Merlo said Wednesday during a presentation to investors at the 37th Annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference.

Merlo said the company will open a a series of concept stores, which will serve as a testing ground for a new retail engagement model that brings healthcare services to consumers in a more convenient and accessible and consumer-focused manner. The first location will open in February, in Houston.

“As we pilot the new program and service offerings, we will identify the solutions that are most effective and scalable, and roll them more broadly across our footprint,” Merlo said.

The new store will be focused on heath and feature new health-and-wellness categories up front. It will also offer an expanded suite of healthcare services that include concierge and health-and-wellness support, such new clinical services as advanced screenings for chronic disease and phlebotomy in MinuteClinics; and enhanced personalized prescription services in the pharmacy.

“We’ll use our data and analytic capabilities to provide actionable information to our pharmacy staff in an effort to improve patient care,” Merlo said.

In other initiatives, CVS Health is launching a specialized program to help support Aetna members being treated for cardiovascular disease to prevent avoidable hospital readmissions. It also piloting a program this month enabling Aetna managers to facilitate the scheduling of MinuteClinic follow-up visits within 14 days post discharge when patients are unable to see their provider.

"We are also piloting a program that leverages CVS pharmacists to provide face-to-face interactions and educate Aetna members on the available care management programs, as well provide patient-specific strategies to migrate the risk of nonadherence, side effects or gaps in care," Merlo said.

Merlo also said that another example of its patient concentric approach will focus on providing the necessary support and coordination that patients need in order to achieve their best health outcome on their patient journey.

“We will provide support to the patient to address many of the challenges they face. It could be arranging transportation to and from the procedure, supply of durable medical equipment to the patients’ home before the operation, conducting pre-op blood work, or providing post-op support that includes medication reconciliation and delivery,” he said.