CVS Health CEO Larry Merlo said the drugstore chain’s retail pharmacies are foundational to its community health strategy and key to its efforts to simplify the patient journey.
Speaking at the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference, Merlo announced that in February CVS will be opening its first concept store in the Houston, TX market.
“We're opening a series of healthcare concept stores which will be a testing ground for a new retail engagement model that brings healthcare services to consumers in a more convenient, more accessible, and more customer focused manner,” he said. “As we pilot new programs and service offerings we will identify the solutions that are most effective and scalable and then roll them out more broadly across our footprint.”
Services that will be tested in the concepts stores include new health and wellness categories in the front store, as CVS optimizes its merchandising to focus on best of category assortments. CVS will also offer an expanded suite of healthcare services that include a “care concierge and other health and wellness support.” The company’s MinuteClinic will introduce new clinical services, such as enhanced screenings for chronic disease. In the pharmacy CVS will provide enhanced personalized prescription support at key points in care. Merlo also noted CVS will use its data and analytics capabilities to provide actionable information through its pharmacy staff in an effort to improve patient care.
Merlo noted that, while CVS’ goal is to become a consumer health destination, the company will be “very thoughtful” about how it scales these offerings.
“We intend to use a hub and spoke approach with the selection of hub stores receiving the full expression while other stores receive a lighter touch refresh.”
CVS and its newly acquired health plan Aetna are already rolling out new services and programs to customers as the company makes “substantial progress” on its Aetna integration.
“I want to unequivocally state that CVS Health and Aetna are one company and our transformation work is already underway,” he said.
Merlo noted as the company transitions this year to its new business model it is “making additional investments.” These include digital and consumer engagement tools as well as continued investments to grow Medicare and drive improvements in its star ratings.