CVS on Thursday announced the launch of its new CVS Health Virtual Primary Care service.
WHY IT MATTERS
The new offering integrates patient engagement tools, telehealth, electronic health record data and more on a single platform that can connect consumers with clinicians at CVS or other providers.
The tool enables patients to choose care in either retail or community-based settings, through at-home health services or virtually, according to CVS Health, which is selling the service to Aetna fully insured, self-insured plan sponsors, and CVS Caremark clients.
Designed as a complement to Aetna’s virtual care strategy, the platform will be available for eligible Aetna members beginning January 1, 2023, officials say, and for eligible CVS Caremark members in Q2 of next year.
CVS Health says the offering will provide access to on-demand primary care, chronic condition management, virtual mental health services and more – with the option of being seen in-person at in-network providers, including MinuteClinic, when needed. Telehealth-based providers can help members find appropriate in-network specialists and other services, too.
CVS Health Virtual Primary Care will feature a member-selected physician-led Care Team – comprising, for example, nurse practitioners, RNs or licensed vocational nurses – who can be accessed through the platform. They can consult with CVS pharmacists for medication management needs.
The platform will also use an interoperable electronic health record – sharing clinical data with other providers to help patients transition between virtual and in-person care. Aggregated data will enable the use of personalized health alerts to help close care gaps, officials say.
THE LARGER TREND
In its announcement, CVS Health notes that it takes, on average, 24 days to schedule an appointment with a primary care physician – and the wait time to see mental health professionals is typically double that. This new platform aims to enable more timely access to virtual and in-person care.
Even before their $68 billion merger in 2018, both CVS and Aetna have, separately and together, both been refining and expanding their virtual and in-person offerings, dating back to 2014 with CVS MinuteClinic and its extensive network of major U.S. health systems. In 2018, MinuteClinic went live with an app-based telehealth offering built on the Teladoc platform. Aetna’s own CVS Health-linked Virtual Primary Care platform launched this past year.
ON THE RECORD
“We’re meeting people where they are on their healthcare journey and providing care that is more convenient and easier to access,” said Dr. Creagh Milford, DO, vice president of enterprise virtual care at CVS Health, announcing the new platform Thursday.
“By offering a connected care team where providers can easily exchange clinical information on behalf of their patients, and an extensive local footprint for in-person care follow-up, we’re able to provide consistent, high-quality care,” Milford added. “This model shifts from reactive to proactive care that can ultimately improve outcomes and help lower costs.”