Will Connected Consumers Think of CVS as Their Pharmacy?
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?