Will Connected Consumers Think of CVS as Their Pharmacy?

Discussion
Aug 21, 2013

At last week’s eTail East Conference in Philadelphia, Brian Tilzer, CVS’ SVP/chief digital officer, presented his company’s plan for its future pharmacy operations — a technological vision of considerable scope. CVS is already a leading dispenser of scripts in the U.S., and 70 million individuals have an ExtraCare card. However, the chain sees an even larger role for itself with the activation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In the process, CVS plans to reinvent what it is to be a pharmacy chain.

The expectation is that the ACA will create 25 million more customers for CVS as more people participate in the U.S. healthcare system. Another expectation is that, to comply with the individual mandate of the ACA, many will turn to high deductible health policies that will require managing their own healthcare more carefully than ever before. In all this, CVS sees an opportunity to play a much greater role in maintaining the health of its customers.

To this end, CVS is ramping up digital and online programming that will provide its pharmacy patients with tools and solutions that will allow them to manage their family’s health. The programming is designed to be comprehensive, enabling a family to manage its typically large number of medications, conditions, physicians and clinics entirely through its CVS.com account.

According to the company, the "My CVSPharmacy" service will tell patients when to take medicines, alert them when prescriptions run out and when immunizations should be scheduled.

Mobile apps allow CVS customers to scan barcodes on Rx vials to prompt refills. Consumers will get a text message when the script is ready. Scanning a prescription’s barcode can also give patients access to information about drug interactions. There are services that provide adherence tools to make sure a patient is taking his or her medications. CVS’ online drug information center has just been launched with comprehensive write-ups and FAQs on thousands of drugs, all for the use of its customers.

CVS is looking for a positive side effect of this connectedness with consumers — an enhanced ability to sell a broader range of products to customers both online and in the chain’s stores.

Will consumers be reluctant to trust drugstores such as CVS to help manage their individual and their families’ health information? Should there be any concern that CVS’ digital program may keep consumers out of stores and reduce engagement with pharmacists?

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10 Comments on "Will Connected Consumers Think of CVS as Their Pharmacy?"

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Mel Kleiman
Guest
4 years 3 months ago

The American consumer seems to gotten to the point that they trust almost everything to anybody that is on the web. The lack of privacy has become no real concern.

This should be a great move by CVS and with some of the tools like the reminder to take medicine built into the system, it could be a real benefit to seniors.

Steve Montgomery
Guest
4 years 3 months ago

The concept of a software program to help people manage their health is a good. Having it done by a company that should have the capability to monitor drug interaction, refills, etc., is a plus. However, I would expect that consumers will be hesitant to allow anyone to hold all their family’s health information, given the number of security breaches that occur each year. The other concern is that the information would be shared with third parties.

Robert DiPietro
Guest
4 years 3 months ago

I think consumers will adopt the technology because it will make it easier for them and may save them money, as they begin to manage their own healthcare more closely with higher deductible plans.

From a stickiness standpoint, it may help with customer retention as once all the information is tied up with the CVS app, the effort to change would be a deterrent.

Also, if customers are used to calling in to get prescriptions filled, then using the app is a next logical step.

Gordon Arnold
Guest
4 years 3 months ago

Gone are the days of consumer selection for medical care and prescription medication. The executive management of CVS saw the writing on the wall years ago and created a plan to be a profitable part of the present into the foreseeable future. As retailers with an interest in 21st century competitive approach to market needs, a close review of companies like CVS over the past 10 years and a study of key executive thought and application processes would be highly rewarding. Learning how others win is better than knowing how others continue to lose.

Bryan Pearson
Guest
4 years 3 months ago

In a survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers that LoyaltyOne conducted in 2012, 36% of respondents said they’d be wiling to share health information with a trusted company. For perspective, that 36% was significantly higher than the 24% of respondents who said they’d share browsing history with a trusted company and the 15% who said they’d reveal smart phone location.

It’s fair to say consumers have been disappointed in their return on sharing personal information. They’re not realizing something of suitable worth in the exchange. CVS’s best chance for success is to demonstrate quickly that it has the consumer’s best interest at heart. If CVS can do that, it will deepen customer relationships.

Warren Thayer
Guest
4 years 3 months ago

Privacy paranoia folk will hate this, so I won’t even debate that. But I think a majority of consumers will be comfortable with it, and make increasing use of it. Steps like this could/should be used by the mail order pharmacies, which never offer reminders, and tend to ship late, hold back scrips based on silly rules, and drive people back to brick-and-mortar stores. Over the years, my own use of CVS programs (text messaging when a scrip is ready, EZ refill, etc.) has me in the store much more often than usual, and since they combine it all with coupons you can use in-store, it’s a real winner.

Peter Charness
Guest
4 years 3 months ago

So which healthcare provider will be the central point of confidential storage for a family’s medical information? Their GP, hospital, specialist, or drug store? Well at least it’s going from a manual tower of babel to an electronic one….

Craig Sundstrom
Guest
4 years 3 months ago

It sounds like CVS is making incremental changes/automation in its pharmacy segment, which is nice…I guess. But it hardly seems like they’re “reinvent(ing) what it is to be a pharmacy chain.” In fact—though perhaps I didn’t read the article carefully—it doesn’t sound much different than what they already do.

Alexander Rink
Guest
4 years 3 months ago

Privacy and pharmacist interactions aside, I definitely think that there is an opportunity here. Managing health information and prescriptions can be incredibly frustrating and time consuming, especially for large families with members that have chronic illnesses. Done right, a system that would enable consumers to easily manage all this information in one place would, in my opinion, definitely give CVS a leg up in the market.

Privacy will, of course be a major concern, particularly anything relating to the sale of information to third parties. CVS will have to make this policy very explicit, and stick to it. They will also need very high levels of security to minimize the probability of leakage of sensitive information. As for reducing interactions with pharmacists, this is an inevitable long-term trend with respect to in-person interactions, and can be mitigated to some extent through increased online interaction with improved communication tools.

Jerry Gelsomino
Guest
4 years 3 months ago

If customers get convenience, faster service, and better pricing, they would give up most any confidential health information. I’m sure of it!

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