CVS moves deeper into doctors' turf

August 8, 2017

CVS moves deeper into doctors' turf

The Wall Street Journal

CVS Health Corp., hit by slower store sales and the defection of some big insurance providers, is moving ever more onto doctors’ turf in a bid to win back business.

The company said Tuesday that it intends to expand a program in which it marshals pharmacists, hundreds of on-site medical clinics and its vast data network to help people manage chronic diseases including asthma and high blood pressure.

It is an extension of a test program launched earlier this year to help improve the health of people with diabetes through close monitoring of glucose levels, medication adherence and lifestyle habits.

In taking on chronic disease, one of health care’s most vexing and costly problems, CVS sees an opportunity to wrest back business from competitors in the pharmacy-benefits sector.

Given that treatment of chronic diseases comprise roughly 70% of the $4 trillion spent annually in the U.S. on health care, any effort to combat the problem is welcome, said Mark Fendrick, a University of Michigan physician and professor focusing on chronic-disease management.

Getting patients to take their medications properly and consistently is a major problem in managing the conditions, said Dr. Fendrick, and one legions of experts over the years have failed to solve.

“There is a lot upside given the low adherence, so it comes as no surprise to see any large pharmacy to get more actively involved in providing care,” Dr. Fendrick said.

One concern of medical professionals is that providing medical services outside a patient’s regular network of doctors could lead to gaps in their records. CVS said it shares the results with patients’ health providers that use the same record-keeping network, provided the patient consents.

In addition to diabetes, CVS will roll out programs over the next two years to manage asthma, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, or high cholesterol, and depression.

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