Reimagining diabetes treatment

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Managing diabetes can be complex. Achieving and maintaining one’s best health for this chronic condition, which causes higher than normal blood sugar levels, depends on a person’s ability to monitor symptoms, manage complicated medication regimens, control blood glucose and practice healthy behaviors.

“There are 50 different things — or maybe more — that a person with diabetes could be doing at any time to best manage their condition,” says Stella Wong, Senior Director for Product Development at CVS Health. “It's overwhelming.”
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In the U.S., more than 34 million people live with diabetes and deal with these challenges, according to the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation. And only about 23 percent of people with Diabetes have it under control, says Peter Simmons, RPh, Vice President of Chronic Care Optimization. “Given the array of solutions available, that's a shame. We feel like we can do better.”

To do that, CVS Health created a proactive, integrated and holistic plan that reimagines diabetes treatment for its members. The goal is to reduce the complexity of self-management and improve health outcomes for plan members with diabetes — while preventing its onset.

Available with Caremark and Aetna benefit plans, the Transform Diabetes Care program uses CVS Health data insights and analytics to create personalized care plans for individuals across five clinical areas. The plan can be communicated through local CVS pharmacists and HealthHUB® professionals, digitally and virtually. Members are provided myriad tools to support their personalized care plan.

Peter Simmons, Vice President of Chronic Care Optimization for CVS Health.
“We always seek to be consumer-centric, consider how to deliver care locally and make care as simple as possible for customers and patients,” says Peter Simon, CVS Health’s VP Chronic Care Optimization.

The data also allows CVS Health to identify gaps in care and respond to patient needs before they arise. This proactive approach sets it apart from most other treatment plans, says Kyle Smith, head of CVS Health Transformation Marketing. “I think that's the most compelling thing about the work that we're doing.”

The program also utilizes a Pharmacist Panel to help patients stick to their plans, says Pharmacy Services Market Support Coach Rebecca Rice. “Pharmacists continue the conversation with their patients about their health while building trust and rapport,” she says.

“We think about our purpose every day: how we can help people on their path to better health,” Simmons says. “We always seek to be consumer-centric, consider how to deliver care locally and make care as simple as possible for customers and patients, especially those managing chronic conditions such as diabetes.”

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The #1 killer of women: Shining a light on cardiovascular disease

The #1 killer of women: Shining a light on cardiovascular disease
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The number one killer of women is cardiovascular disease. This stark statistic is why the American Heart Association’s national “Go Red for Women” movement is so important. Healthy Communities News was on hand at their annual star-studded Red Dress Collection fashion show in New York City, where we got the opportunity to sit down with four heart disease and stroke survivors for a roundtable discussion. Hear their stories of recovery and hope — and why we need to talk about women’s heart health.


Taking a deep dive into heart health

You can be young, look and feel healthy and still be at risk for a heart attack or stroke. Surprised? Healthy Communities News spoke with Dr. Mosca, a volunteer medical expert with the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women movement, to get a better of understanding of women’s heart health. We also sat down with Jenny Petz and Nicole Murray, two of the inspiring heart disease and stroke survivors chosen for Go Red for Women’s 2020 class of Real Women to hear their powerful stories of survival and recovery.

Dr. Mosca, a volunteer medical expert with the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women movement.
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New maternity program promotes safer pregnancies through personalized care

New maternity program promotes safer pregnancies through personalized care
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Initiative helps address maternal health crisis by informing expectant moms about the potential benefits of low-dose aspirin to prevent preeclampsia

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — To help address the unprecedented maternal health crisis affecting American women and support prenatal and postpartum care, Aetna, a CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) company, has launched a new initiative as part of the Aetna Maternity Program.

"Over the past two decades we've seen a steady rise in pregnancy-related deaths, and significant racial and ethnic disparities persist that can lead to poor maternal outcomes," said Troy Brennan, M.D., CVS Health Chief Medical Officer. "The main contributors to this crisis reflect deep-rooted issues within our health care system that we must address, including limited access to care."

Building on a long-standing commitment to connect expectant moms with care that meets their unique needs, this first-of-its-kind initiative is focused specifically on preventing preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a leading cause of maternal and infant illness and death that is characterized by new-onset hypertension during pregnancy. Preeclampsia can lead to serious maternal complications, including stroke, seizure and organ failure and accounts for 15 percent of all preterm births in the U.S. Rates of the condition have increased 25 percent in the last ten years alone.https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/recommendation/low-dose-aspirin-use-for-the-prevention-of-morbidity-and-mortality-from-preeclampsia-preventive-medication

According to the World Health Organization, the U.S. is one of the only high-income countries where deaths related to pregnancy or childbirth are on the rise. Black women are also being disproportionately affected, with rates of severe maternal morbidity and mortality two to three times that of white women.

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented new challenges, as many expectant moms may be attending fewer in-person prenatal care visits. In turn, they may increase their risk of developing complications that go undetected.

Recent recommendations by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and multiple medical professional societies recommend low-dose aspirin for the prevention of preeclampsia for women at high risk for developing the condition. By leveraging data analytics, the Aetna Maternity Program identifies pregnant women with risk factors for developing the condition for individualized outreach and education. Women at high risk are sent a personalized prenatal care kit that contains educational materials along with an 81-mg bottle of low-dose aspirin, a low-cost intervention that may reduce the risk for developing the condition. Members receive an appointment reminder card encouraging them to speak with their pregnancy care provider about the potential benefits of low-dose aspirin and whether it is right for them. All pregnant members are also mailed information developed by the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine on preeclampsia and prevention steps.

"This is an innovative, simple way to promote safer pregnancies by enhancing awareness about an important cause of maternal and infant harm," said Daniel Knecht, M.D., Vice President of Clinical Product for CVS Health. "This initiative is also designed to help close gaps in knowledge by supporting members in conversations with their providers."

Low-dose aspirin as a preventive therapy

While there is no cure for preeclampsia, taking one low-dose aspirin a day has been shown to reduce the risk of the condition and some of its complications. Pregnant women with risk factors such as hypertension, Type 1 or 2 diabetes, obesity, and a history of preeclampsia benefit from the use of prenatal aspirin, according to the USPSTF. When this therapy was started in the first trimester in at-risk women, it reduced the incidence of hypertension by 24% and preterm birth by 14%.

To further support women's health, Aetna is exploring additional ways to partner with network physicians and provide this latest guidance.

"CVS Health has delivery channels that can bring critical information and resources such as low-dose aspirin right to members' doorsteps. This outreach is coupled with a care management program featuring highly trained and dedicated nurses to support the personalized needs of pregnant members," noted Joanne Armstrong, M.D., head of Women's Health for CVS Health and an OB/GYN.

For more information about the Aetna Maternity Program and the company's efforts to prevent preeclampsia, click here.

About CVS Health

CVS Health employees are united around a common goal of becoming the most consumer-centric health company. We're evolving based on changing consumer needs and meeting people where they are, whether that's in the community at one of our nearly 10,000 local touchpoints, in the home, or in the palm of their hand. Our newest offerings from HealthHUB locations that are redefining what a pharmacy can be, to innovative programs that help manage chronic conditions are designed to create a higher-quality, simpler and more affordable experience. Learn more about how we're transforming health at www.cvshealth.com.

Contact

Kathleen Biesecker
bieseckerk@aetna.com
703-472-8466

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Creating safer pregnancies through preeclampsia prevention

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A new, first-of-its-kind initiative designed to prevent the devastating impacts of preeclampsia in pregnant members launched today as part of the Aetna Maternity Program. Building on the enterprise’s long-standing commitment to support expectant mothers on a path to better health, the initiative is focused on preventing this condition, a leading cause of maternal and infant illness and death that accounts for 15 percent of all preterm births in the U.S.https://www.preeclampsia.org/faqs

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. is one of the only high-income countries where deaths related to pregnancy or childbirth are on the rise. This crisis also disproportionately affects Black women.https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr69/nvsr69_02-508.pdfhttps://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/maternal-mortality/ And, in recent months, the COVID-19 pandemic has created new challenges, as many expectant moms may be attending fewer in-person prenatal care visits that could help detect preeclampsia risks.

“Alarmingly, women today are 50 percent more likely to die in childbirth than their mothers were, and Black women are at an even higher risk. We must do more to address this public health crisis and keep moms and babies healthy,” says Daniel Knecht, M.D., CVS Health’s vice president of clinical products. “The goal of this initiative is to help empower our members to have productive discussions with their providers throughout their pregnancy journey.” 

Empowering safer pregnancies

Amidst the COVID-19 landscape, pregnant women may be attending fewer in-person prenatal care visits and in turn be at higher risk for developing complications that go undetected.

Read the infographic

By leveraging Aetna claims data, the program identifies high-risk pregnant members for individualized outreach and subsequently sends them an engaging, personalized prenatal care kit. Each kit contains educational materials about preeclampsia, along with an 81 mg bottle of low-dose aspirin, an intervention that can substantially reduce the risk for developing the condition. Members also receive an appointment reminder card encouraging them to have informed conversations with their obstetrician about the potential benefits of low-dose aspirin.Note: Pregnant women should always talk to their doctor before starting an aspirin regimen.

Although preeclampsia has no cure, taking one low-dose aspirin a day has been proven to be a low-cost, safe medication that can significantly cut the risk of the condition and some of its complications.https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1704559?query=recirc_curatedRelated_article Despite compelling evidence, providers and patients are largely unaware of aspirin’s effectiveness, highlighting the important need for continued education.

“CVS Health is well-positioned to improve both access to and outcomes of maternal and neonatal health care, including for causes of severe maternal morbidity that is disproportionately experienced among minority women,” noted Joanne Armstrong, M.D., CVS Health enterprise head of women’s health and an OB/GYN. “We have delivery channels that can bring critical information and resources, such as low-dose aspirin, right to members’ doorsteps. This outreach is coupled with a care management program featuring highly trained and dedicated nurses to support the personalized needs of pregnant members.”

The initiative is an exciting and simple way that CVS Health and Aetna are empowering safer pregnancies and connecting expectant mothers with preventative care that meets their unique needs. As part of the Aetna Maternity Program’s efforts, all pregnant members will receive a letter and flyer from the Society of Maternal-Fetal Medicine informing them about preeclampsia and its signs and symptoms.

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Helping members stay well, at home

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In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, employers and other benefit plan sponsors are searching for more ways to support members’ health. People are experiencing both physical and mental challenges as they cope with isolation, economic hardship, disruptions to normal work and school routines, and the virus itself.

CVS Health is making it easier for employers and health plans to meet these growing challenges with the expansion of our Point Solutions Management offering. This program enables plan sponsors to more efficiently administer apps, online trackers and other digital point solutions that support their members’ self-care routines at home.

“Digital point solutions can help people manage important wellness areas like mental wellbeing, fitness and weight loss from the safety and convenience of their own homes,” said Sree Chaguturu, MD, Chief Medical Officer at CVS Caremark. “Employers and other plan sponsors increasingly are looking for better ways to include these kinds of tools in their benefits packages — especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The recently added solutions have passed CVS Health’s rigorous vendor evaluation process to ensure that they support health outcomes while helping to reduce costs. The five new point solutions available to CVS Caremark clients through Point Solutions Management include:

  • Daylight: A fully automated and highly personalized mobile app to tackle worry and anxiety, based on cognitive behavioral techniques. 

  • Naturally Slim: An online program that uses informative videos and learning tools to teach individuals how to lose weight and improve their overall health.

  • Vida: A weight loss program with an app that pairs individuals one-on-one with a health coach, helping members achieve their health goals through phone and video conversations.

  • WW: Weight Watchers reimagined — A weight loss app providing access to food and fitness trackers, thousands of delicious recipes, and community support.

  • Kurbo: A digital program for children and teens ages 8 to 17 that teaches users how to make healthier choices and lifestyle changes through weekly video coaching, in-app chat, messaging, games, and educational videos.

These solutions join Hello Heart, Hinge Health, Sleepio, Torchlight, and Whil that are available to CVS Caremark clients through our Point Solutions Management program.

Point Solutions Management is a full-service offering that leverages the CVS Caremark pharmacy benefit management (PBM) infrastructure to help clients evaluate solutions, streamline vendor contracting, billing, eligibility verification and reporting. In total, ten solutions are now included as part of the program — addressing a broad range of health care concerns including chronic condition management, musculoskeletal health, stress reduction, mental health management, weight loss, and caregiver support.

This expansion is the latest in CVS Health’s ongoing innovation strategy, focused on meeting emerging client and member needs — while responding to acute concerns arising during the COVID-19 pandemic. We will continue to regularly evaluate and update the offering to include additional vendors that support improved outcomes and help lower costs across key areas of health, including fertility, financial wellness and the social determinants of health.

For plan sponsors interested in learning more about Point Solutions Management, please visit the Point Solutions Management page on our Payor Solutions website.

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The mission to “Unite Us”

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As a person experiencing homelessness, Michael Fields’ biggest challenge in addiction recovery was not simply achieving sobriety but finding the social support to maintain it. 

“I ended up back on the street every time, back in drug addiction,” says the 45-year-old West Virginia native who completed several treatment programs. “When you’re in recovery, you have to change everything about your life, or you change nothing.”

Michael’s story illustrates how social determinants of health can directly influence a person’s wellbeing outside a doctor’s office – with factors like affordable housing, food insecurity and education impacting up to 80% of health incomes.

William Turley does his laundry inside the Peer Center (a drop-in center for individuals experiencing homelessness) in Charleston, West Virginia.
William Turley does his laundry inside the Peer Center (a drop-in center for individuals experiencing homelessness) on Thursday, June 4, 2020, in Charleston, West Virginia. (Credit: Chris Cone/CVS Health)

To build healthier communities, especially during these unprecedented times where COVID-19 has contributed to massive layoffs and fewer resources for assistance, CVS Health and Unite Us launched a digital social care network in Central West Virginia. It provides essential services around substance abuse and mental and behavioral health. It also addresses other crucial needs such as employment, education, housing and food security.

“As an extension of our traditional plan offerings, we’re helping vulnerable community members access the non-clinical resources they need to improve their everyday health,” says R.J. Briscione, senior director of Social Determinants of Health Strategy & Execution at Aetna, a CVS Health Company.

Aetna, according to R.J. will also make the Unite Us network available to its Medicaid and dual-eligible Medicaid/Medicare customers in the region.

“This network opens up a whole new world to people who have access to limited resources,” says Jim Smallridge, RN, manager, Community Development for Aetna Better Health of West Virginia. “It’s an extension of possibilities for so many people in need.”

Amanda sits in the parking lot outside the United Way Drop-in Peer Center in Charleston, West Virginia.
Amanda sits in the parking lot outside the United Way Drop-in Peer Center in Charleston, West Virginia. She looks forward to the services she will be provided.

Looking toward the future, CVS Health and Unite Us are looking to provide similar networks in Florida, Louisiana, Kentucky and North Carolina.

Today, because he’s found the support he so badly needed through this program, Michael Fields now has greater hope for long-term sobriety. The United Way, a local Unite Us member, helped him apply for housing and food assistance. He’s also applying for a grant that would allow him to attend a local technical college.

“I’m definitely not taking anything for granted. I’m working every day to keep everything I’ve got,” he says. “It isn’t much, but it’s a whole lot more than I’ve had for a long time.”

Non-profit soup kitchen Manna Meal, a partner of Unite Us, prepares to serve meals June 4, 2020, in Charleston, West Virginia.
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20 U.S. cities and counties pledge to improve local systems and policies to advance health equity with $2 million in grants from the Aetna Foundation

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APHA, NACo and Healthy Places by Design to collaborate on capacity-building efforts to accelerate community change

WASHINGTON — The Aetna Foundation, together with the American Public Health Association (APHA) and the National Association of Counties (NACo), today announced the organizations selected to receive a grant as part of the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge to support communities that are changing the way they work together across sectors to reduce disparities in chronic disease outcomes. This grant program will award a total of $2 million to teams of organizations that will work together to change the food access and health care systems in their communities and engage community residents as leaders in their work.

"Access to health care and healthy food can significantly impact rates of chronic disease and other health outcomes, with average life spans varying by up to 20-30 years in communities that are just a few miles apart," said Aetna Foundation President Eileen Howard Boone. "We are proud to partner with APHA and NACo to support the work of the teams taking on the Healthiest and Cities & Counties Challenge to drive change and address these social determinants of health work that is now more important than ever, given the COVID-19 pandemic."

The Challenge teams will each receive $100,000 to implement multi-year projects to advance health equity in communities where individuals are disproportionately impacted by health disparities. In addition to the funding, Challenge teams will participate in one-on-one technical assistance provided by APHA and NACo and co-create a supportive peer-learning network led by Healthy Places by Design over the course of the two years.

The project teams are located in the following cities and counties:

  • Chula Vista, California

  • Tompkins County, New York

  • Collier County, Florida

  • Cumberland County, North Carolina

  • Deerfield Beach, Florida

  • Wilkes County, North Carolina

  • Dougherty County, Georgia

  • Cincinnati, Ohio

  • Cumming/Forsyth County, Georgia

  • Cleveland, Ohio

  • Perry County, Kentucky

  • Cambria County, Pennsylvania

  • New Brunswick, New Jersey

  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

  • Paterson, New Jersey

  • Kerrville, Texas

  • Orange County, New York

  • Greenbrier County, West Virginia

  • Rochester, New York

  • Wheeling, West Virginia

"There is no one-size-fits-all approach to achieving health equity," said APHA Executive Director Georges C. Benjamin, MD. "Successful, lasting change comes from cross-sector partnerships and engaging affected individuals and communities, which is why this challenge is so powerful. Together, communities in the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge will be able to achieve enduring transformations to public health."

Added NACo President Mary Ann Borgeson, "Counties play an essential role in protecting, promoting and improving health in our communities across the country. The Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge recognizes the positive impact of cross-sector partnerships and offers opportunities for counties to develop innovative approaches to meet residents' health needs."

The project teams intend to use what they learn over the next two years to produce models and resources that can inform work in other similarly sized cities and counties across the country. Challenge communities have proposed strategies including:

  • Increasing access points for purchasing fresh produce and receiving health care;

  • Leveraging local schools as partners;

  • Addressing barriers to transportation;

  • Building more equitable models for food procurement and distribution;

  • Increasing coordination and data-sharing across organizations;

  • Improving health care referral systems;

  • Developing community advisory boards; and

  • Informing local policies.

An expert review panel selected the teams following a rigorous review process, which looked at a variety of factors including: level of innovation of their proposed approaches; intended impacts on systems and policy change; and alignment of diverse partners around common priorities.

The Aetna Foundation, which first launched the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge in partnership with APHA and NACo in 2016, is an independent, charitable and philanthropic affiliate of CVS Health.

The American Public Health Association champions the health of all people and all communities. We are the only organization that combines a nearly 150-year perspective, a broad-based member community and the ability to influence federal policy to improve the public's health.

Contact

Erin Britt
CVS Health
401-318-3962

APHA Media Relations
202-777-3913

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CVS Health launches "Time for Care" encouraging individuals to prioritize primary health care needs

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WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) today announced the official launch of Time for Care, a campaign that reinforces the importance of accessing primary health care. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many Americans have appropriately focused on staying home to keep themselves and others healthy. Although this kind of physical distancing is still an essential component of preventing the spread of COVID-19, it is critical for people to continue prioritizing health care needs.

"While we remain focused on reducing the spread of COVID-19, we also need to make sure that we're encouraging people to get the care they need to avoid worse health outcomes in the future particularly people with chronic health conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease," said Garth Graham, MD, MPH, Vice President, Community Health and Chief Community Health Officer for CVS Health. "The 'Time for Care' campaign drives that message home while reminding everyone of the precautions they can take to prevent the spread of COVID-19."

Time for Care includes a national television ad, which launches today, along with a microsite, digital content, and Aetna member program components that address concerns for people with chronic health conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, as well as specific health issues such as high-risk pregnancies due to preeclampsia. To help inform the campaign's design, Aetna and Morning Consult initiated a national survey among 4,400 Americans to identify barriers to accessing care amid COVID-19.

Key findings include:

  • Nearly 60 percent of Americans said they have canceled or delayed a health care appointment due to concerns about exposure to COVID-19 since the pandemic began

  • Half of Americans have concerns the pandemic has negatively affected their own health or the health of someone in their household

  • Nearly 60 percent of people with chronic conditions are concerned the pandemic has negatively affected their own health or the health of someone in their household

  • Fifty percent of pregnant mothers are not confident their primary care physicians have put the necessary measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19

COVID-19 has deeply affected the Black and Hispanic communities across the U.S. where higher rates of chronic conditions are common. CVS Health is actively working to address these racial and ethnic health disparities by expanding community-based testing in underserved areas. More information is available on CVS Health’s COVID-19 testing information and locations page.

Dr. Graham added, "Now is the time to reevaluate both our physical and mental health needs not only for our families, but for ourselves. We all need to find ways to actively and safely reconnect with health care providers and encourage loved ones to do the same."

To learn more, visit aetna.com/timeforcare and follow #TimeForCare to join the conversation.

About CVS Health

CVS Health employees are united around a common goal of becoming the most consumer-centric health company. We're evolving based on changing consumer needs and meeting people where they are, whether that's in the community at one of our nearly 10,000 local touchpoints, in the home, or in the palm of their hand. Our newest offerings from HealthHUB locations that are redefining what a pharmacy can be, to innovative programs that help manage chronic conditions are designed to create a higher-quality, simpler and more affordable experience. Learn more about how we're transforming health at www.cvshealth.com.

Contact

Ethan Slavin
SlavinE@aetna.com
860-273-6095

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Amidst a pandemic, consumers say they want accessible, affordable and technology-enabled health care, new CVS Health study finds

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Path to Better Health Study also reveals desire for digital health care solutions to support chronic care, mental health needs.

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — The American health care system is undergoing a period of rapid transformation. In recent months, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed new challenges and opportunities to accelerate advances in health care delivery, solve for systemic health inequities, dramatically improve care outcomes, and better meet consumer expectations for convenience and affordability.

With a global pandemic as the backdrop, CVS Health (NYSE:CVS) fielded the 2020 Path to Better Health Study, where consumers and providers were asked for their thoughts on the state of health care and how they are navigating this evolving landscape. While certain attitudes may have evolved as a result of COVID-19, the study reveals that consumers need more accessible, personalized and technology-driven health care than ever before and are seeking simplicity in the way they engage in their own health.

The use of technology and data analytics in health care is reaching new heights, and the pandemic is accelerating the adoption of digitally based solutions. Consumers are eagerly embracing tech, especially when it comes to communicating with their providers. Forty-eight percent said they would be more likely to communicate with health care professionals if they were able to do so through digital messaging (up from 41% in 2019), via telehealth (32%, up from 19% in 2019) and through virtual office visits such as Skype or FaceTime (29%, up from 20% in 2019). Additionally, 40% of consumers said they would be very likely to receive care for mental and behavioral health virtually.

"The pandemic has forced countless Americans to rethink their approach to health and explore different avenues of care," notes Larry Merlo, CEO of CVS Health. "Whether in the community, in the home or in the palm of their hand, people are discovering new ways to conveniently and affordably address their health care needs, including mental and behavioral health. We expect these changes will transform the way care is delivered moving forward."

The need to manage chronic conditions and mental health concerns is clearly top of mind for many consumers. A significant number of people indicated that members of their households are struggling with high blood pressure (41%), obesity (35%), mental illness (28%) and diabetes (17%).

Addressing mental health concerns is also of growing importance, especially among those aged 18 34 and 35 50, where social isolation is a top concern. For example, 44% of those aged 18 to 34 and 45% of those aged 35 to 50 indicated they no longer have a desire to be social, while only 29% of those aged 51 to 64 said the same. This resembles the 2019 findings, in which 48% of those 18 to 34 and 45% of those 35 to 50 reported they did not have a desire to be social, versus 35% of people aged 51 to 64.

The desire for accessibility is pushing people to explore new avenues of care. While a majority (62%) of consumers still go to their primary care physician (PCP) to treat a minor illness or injury, nearly one-third (31%) are likely to visit a non-emergency walk-in clinic. This is up from 2019, in which 59% of consumers reported going to their PCP for a minor illness or injury, while 28% said they would visit a non-emergency walk-in clinic. Digital solutions such as telemedicine are also growing in popularity with both patients and providers.

Most consumers (92%) said it is very or somewhat important that health care be convenient a factor that has only become more critical as a result of COVID-19.

About one-third (35%) of people said health care costs are an obstacle to staying healthy, and close to half (49%) have not visited a doctor when they had a minor illness or injury due to cost. Despite cost emerging as a top barrier to care, it is not often a topic of discussion between patients and health care providers. Two-thirds of patients (66%) said their PCP and other health care providers had not asked about the "affordability" of health care and/or discussed resources to assist with these costs, up slightly from 64% in the 2019 Path to Better Health Study.

Other highlights from the study include:

  • Health care providers are increasingly turning to digital tools and technologies to care for and connect with their patients. Telemedicine is of particular interest, with 40% of providers saying it is very valuable for communicating with patients, up from 22% in the 2019 study. The future outlook for incorporating predictive analytics or artificial intelligence into provider practices also looks strong, with more than one-third (39%) indicating they already have or are very or somewhat likely to integrate these technologies into their practices within the next several years.

  • Providers are expressing the need for additional support for important community resources, but access is improving. For example, many providers said they have fair or poor access to substance abuse counselors (56%) and mental health counselors (50%), down from 63% and 55% in our 2019 study, respectively.

  • Many providers are experiencing burnout symptoms. Three-fourths (75%) of all providers said they feel burned out very frequently, frequently or sometimes. About one-quarter (27%) said the main cause of burnout is time spent documenting care/electronic record systems, followed by administrative/management requirements/paperwork (25%).

Read the full study.

About the study

The Path to Better Health Study by CVS Health, first released in 2018 and called the Health Ambitions Study, was conducted in March 2020 and included two surveys fielded by Market Measurement, a national market research consulting firm. The consumer survey comprised 1,000 participants 18 and older, located throughout the U.S. It also oversampled 12 metropolitan statistical areas Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Cleveland, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, Providence, Hartford, San Francisco, Tampa and among two ethnic groups: African American and Hispanic people. The survey of 400 providers focused on primary care physicians and specialists with at least two years' experience, as well as nurse practitioners, physician assistants and pharmacists.

About CVS Health

CVS Health employees are united around a common goal of becoming the most consumer-centric health company. We're evolving based on changing consumer needs and meeting people where they are, whether that's in the community at one of our nearly 10,000 local touchpoints, in the home, or in the palm of their hand. Our newest offerings from HealthHUB locations that are redefining what a pharmacy can be, to innovative programs that help manage chronic conditions are designed to create a higher-quality, simpler and more affordable experience. Learn more about how we're transforming health at www.cvshealth.com.

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Kathleen Biesecker
bieseckerk@aetna.com
703-472-8466

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Path to Better Health Study 2020

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CVS Health’s 2020 Path to Better Health Study finds that consumers are seeking a more accessible, affordable and technology-enabled health care experience than ever before. 

The American health care system is undergoing a time of accelerated innovation and transformation. Consumer expectations for convenient and personalized health care support, coupled with the exploding use of technology and data analytics, are just several trends driving critical change. The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic has also provided an opportunity to further advance health care delivery and utilization to better meet the needs of our patients, our customers and our communities.

According to our 2020 Path to Better Health Study, now in its third year, consumers and providers are hungry for this care transformation and want health solutions that meet them where they are — in store, in home and in hand.

cvs heart

40%

of consumers said they would be very likely to receive care for mental and behavioral health virtually.

71%

of consumers indicated they were greatly concerned with treating chronic illness due to cost. 

81%

of providers reported that they always, often or sometimes recommend that their patients establish health goals during routine office visits.

Importance of accessibility and affordability

Delivering accessible, high-quality care at any time is a key health care priority — and has become even more significant during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to our study, consumers agree, with 92% indicating that it was very or somewhat important that health care be convenient. 

We found that people’s desire for accessibility is pushing them to explore new avenues of care. While a majority of consumers still go to their primary care physician (PCP) to treat a minor illness or injury, nearly one-third of consumers are likely to visit a non-emergency walk-in clinic.

Consumers are receiving routine support for minor illnesses or injuries at several sites of care: 62% report visiting their primary care physician; 31% report using emergency walk-in clinics; 18% report visiting a hospital emergency room; and 15% report visiting community health clinics.

“Consumers are demanding convenience and ease in how they access health services. Technological solutions have the power to simplify health care and significantly expand the ways we deliver it,” said Larry Merlo, CEO of CVS Health, adding that COVID-19 has provided an unprecedented opportunity to accelerate transformation and drive lasting and systemic change in the American health care system. “Our growing local presence and expansion of virtual care, telemedicine, and other omnichannel programs will be critical to meeting the health needs of our members and customers, both during and after the pandemic.” 

Affordability is also top-of-mind for consumers. About one-third (35%) of people said health care costs are an obstacle to staying healthy, while close to half (49%) have not visited a doctor when they had a minor illness or injury due to cost, suggesting that consumers could use additional support in this area.


Increasing appetite for technology-enabled care

The use of technology across the health care continuum has been rising at a rapid rate. As a result of COVID-19, the pace of technological transformation will only quicken and greatly influence the future of care delivery. 

Our study shows that people want to use technology to enhance communication with their health care providers, by adopting tools like digital messaging, telemedicine and virtual office visits. Among providers, their use of digital technologies to care for and connect with patients is also expanding. Telehealth is of particular interest, with 40% of providers saying it is very valuable for communicating with patients, up from 22% in our 2019 study.

The use of digital tools to facilitate communication between patients and providers is on the rise. Digital messaging among consumers is up 7% from 2019 with an overall usage of 48%. Among providers, digital messaging is down 2% from 2019 but overall usage is at 36%. Telehealth services, have shown a 14% increases among consumers, with a 32% overall usage rate. Among providers, usage of telehealth services increased 18% with a 40% usage overall.

Our Path to Better Health Study also found that:

  • Mental health is of critical concern for consumers, especially among those aged 18 to 34 and 35 to 50, with the issue of social isolation being a top concern.
  • Consumers, as well as their friends, family and other household members, are struggling with chronic conditions, including high blood pressure, obesity, mental illness and diabetes. 
  • Health care providers still need more support in accessing important community-based resources, such as nutritionists and social workers, but this access is improving. 
  • Many providers are experiencing burnout symptoms at least some of the time. 
  • Awareness of and involvement in value-based care models is growing.
A woman sits at a dining room table eating a salad and a piece of bread while quietly smiling and reading a tablet computer.

Methodology 

The Path to Better Health Study by CVS Health, first released in 2018 and called the Health Ambitions Study, was conducted in March 2020 and included two surveys fielded by Market Measurement, a national market research consulting firm. The consumer survey comprised 1,000 participants 18 and older, located throughout the U.S. It also oversampled 12 metropolitan statistical areas — Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Cleveland, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, Providence, Hartford, San Francisco, Tampa and among two ethnic groups: African Americans and Hispanics. The survey of 400 providers focused on primary care physicians and specialists with at least two years’ experience, as well as nurse practitioners, physician assistants and pharmacists.

A woman in gray athletic clothes stretches and practices yoga poses in a very light and bright room. The photo is set inside of a CVS Health® heart on a red background.
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