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A care strategy whose time has come

Sept 18, 2023 |3 minute read time

Sree Chaguturu in front of white heart & dark blue background

Sree Chaguturu
MD, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, CVS Health

Despite the value of preventive services, adoption remains historically low. To change that, we must meaningfully improve access, convenience and cost.

Health care providers know that evidence-based preventive care saves lives. But every American also understands the challenges of getting that care — whether it’s a blood pressure check-up or undergoing a cancer screening. At every step, we, as consumers, are met with obstacles, which include difficulty in accessing these services, inconvenient appointment times and sometimes prohibitive costs.

This issue of the Health Trends report delves into some of those barriers. We also look at how we can put new measures in place, exploring ways to tackle the preventive care crisis and make real change.

As the leading health solutions company, we at CVS Health® know that the reasons people miss preventive care are often deeply individual. Some are too busy to engage with a primary care physician (PCP) in-person or virtually. Others may have barriers stemming from their social determinants of health, such as a lack of transportation to a doctor’s office. Yet others may need reminders or additional education about which services can keep them well. And, of course, economic considerations are always a factor.

As a doctor, this is a problem I am intimately familiar with: The patient in front of you is unlike any other. Effective treatment plans must be tailored to fit their individual needs and lifestyles.

Our more than 40,000 physicians, pharmacists, nurses and nurse practitioners work every day to improve access and make health care easier and more effective. Better health care starts with your PCP. Decades of studies, most notably summarized in a 2021 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, have shown how PCPs create better long-term health outcomes* and lower overall costs, especially for people with complex and chronic conditions.

The role of PCPs in overall health is why we recently added Oak Street Health to our team. At 160 clinics nationwide, Oak Street Health is pioneering a whole-person model of care. Patients spend more time with providers and have a wider range of their needs addressed — including those arising from social determinants of health. That care is also provided by a broad and diverse team, which can include behavioral health specialists and medical social workers.

Sree Chaguturu in front of white background

Better health care starts with your primary care provider.

Sree Chaguturu

MD, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, CVS Health

Sree Chaguturu in front of white background

Other CVS Health offerings, including new virtual primary care solutions, team-based primary care programs from Aetna®, primary care enabled services at MinuteClinic®, and our acquisition of Signify Health — which deploys a network of more than 10,000 clinicians in all 50 states to patients’ homes to help close care gaps — lean into this solution, too.

We also aim to make preventive care more convenient by expanding the number of sites where we provide care and the types of providers that offer preventive services. Pharmacies proved to be critical local health centers at a time of crisis, delivering not only COVID-19 vaccines and treatments but routine vaccines as well. And retail health clinics also underwent a transformation in their role for the public. Many now offer preventive services, including screenings for cancer and other common health conditions, care for chronic conditions, mental health screenings and treatment, and reproductive care, where legally permitted.

Through extensive research into inflection points in the health care journey, and stewarding some of the largest analytics efforts in health care, CVS Health is working toward a system of speaking the language of each patient we serve.

For some, an automated phone or app-based nudge may be enough to encourage them to schedule a vaccine. For others, virtual or home-based care may be the most convenient option for routine screenings. Taking all of this into account, we are working to offer each of our patients and members a “next best action” — a step to help them manage their current health and prevent worse outcomes down the road.

That approach — giving each patient clarity about next steps and a range of convenient and affordable ways to accomplish them — will be our best hope to move the needle on preventive care.

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