CVS targeting primary care

Company focusing on physician-led care and opening 1,000 new sites and acquiring existing practices

CVS Health outlined a plan to investors on how it will invest in primary care as one of its key strategies for 2022 and beyond. The company said its goal is to make health care more convenient, personalized, and affordable for consumers.

“Now is the time to undertake our next major evolution and capitalize on our role as the leading health solutions company in America,” said CVS Health President and CEO Karen S. Lynch in a statement. “By leaning into our high-growth foundational businesses and expanding our reach in areas like health services and primary care, we have an opportunity to shift care to be more centered around the consumer while capturing a meaningfully greater portion of health care spend.”

Lynch indicated the company would advance its primary care delivery capabilities by guiding consumers to CVS sites and to providers to meet their needs, both in person and virtually. She said this approach will complement the traditional provider network and continue to expand ways to utilize risk-based arrangements and value-based care.

In addition, CVS wants its stores to serve as community health destinations by turning its stores into “advanced primary care centers.” As part of this plan, the company will close approximately 900 stores over the next three years to reduce store density and ensure it has the right kinds of stores in the right locations. The company will also expand its home health services, launch health-related subscription models, and commercialize its analytic data. CVS has more than 35 million online members to pitch these new services to and hopes to leverage those relationships into growth in these new areas.

CVS plans to buy physician practices and clinics as part of this larger strategy to add a few hundred primary care centers to its portfolio. The company already operates a network of urgent care locations staffed by nurse practitioners but wants to broaden its reach into primary care. The company wants to move from episodic to more longitudinal care and plans to open roughly 1,000 HealthHUBs this year — which devote about a fifth of their retail space to health services focusing on preventive care, wellness activities, and education and management of chronic conditions.

Through this longitudinal approach, the company hopes to reduce costs. CVS stated that a multi-year study of Aetna’s commercial self-funded business showed consistent improvement in utilization and cost of care when the member has both Aetna medical and pharmacy benefits. (CVS bought Aetna in 2018). Integrated members showed a sustained 3-6% decrease per member per month medical costs over a three-year period. Members who filled prescriptions at CVS locations showed a 6% higher adherence across chronic conditions, including congestive heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension, and also demonstrated at least a 40% higher level of engagement in supportive care management programs in 2020.