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.
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.
A global health pandemic comes with tremendous uncertainty and anxiety. Patients deserve stability and peace of mind when it comes to their health care — the last thing that should create additional concern is whether they can access the medicines or care they need while staying socially distant.
Recognizing our responsibility to provide patients with additional support at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we tapped into our solutions to ensure that all patients continue to get their medications and care without leaving the home — and at a price they can afford.
Avoiding potential exposure without avoiding care
When the pandemic spread, routine and preventive medical care plummeted. In fact, Health Care Cost Institute estimates that millions of Americans continue to forego this type of care.
Avoiding health care needs can have serious consequences that come at a cost to individual health — and the system as a whole — in the future. Similarly, avoiding care for chronic conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, can cause more problems down the road. Patients who stop taking needed medications, or don’t get started on them, also face the risk of complications.
Our digital and remote pharmacy touchpoints help to keep patients safe, healthy, and at home as much as possible. To help prevent potential gaps in care and keep people safe at home, CVS Health led an early effort with local agencies to change regulations and enable greater remote pharmacy care management. Additionally, we made changes to our business to help minimize trips to the pharmacy, including early refill prescriptions, expanded access to 90-day supplies of maintenance medications by mail and free prescription delivery from retail stores.
Specialty members warrant added attention
We are working with hospitals and providers across the country to continue to support solutions that create much-needed hospital bed capacity and ensure streamlined care for many specialty patients. Through Coram, clinicians can deliver a clinically appropriate in-home care setting for patients recovering from a range of illnesses, which can help minimize their risk of contracting COVID-19 during treatment.
For patients, especially those living with complex or chronic illnesses, ensuring an uninterrupted supply of needed medications is crucial to their care. In the face of the enormous pressure the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on the U.S. health care system, our responsibility to ensure members have affordable access to the medications they need – when they need them – is critical.
From the onset of the pandemic, we’ve adapted our business practices to maintain the services that our clients and more than 100 million Americans depend on. We recognize that for someone living with a condition, such as lupus or asthma, going without a medication can create negative and costly consequences.
Monitoring prescription supply to meet member needs
The current landscape has required the drug supply chain to be more responsive and effective. We work across the supply chain to carefully monitor prescription availability, potential shortages and spikes in demand. This way, we can stay one step ahead of utilization trends to help ensure that people have access to the medicines needed to manage their health and avoid costly complications down the road.
Using predictive analytics, we can monitor prescription usage trends and adapt drug supplies as needed.
Moving forward, it will be important to use these analytics not only to understand supply and demand trends but analyze where pharmaceutical ingredients are coming from. Early in the pandemic, we shifted our practices to account for COVID-19 spikes in locations like Northern Italy, India and China, which are central to the pharmaceutical supply chain.
Because no two clients’ needs are the same, we customize our services, tools and programs to deliver the greatest value to both clients and their unique member populations. As our clients face the economic realities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re working in a consultative role to ensure they can continue to keep their populations and workforces adherent to their medicines and care, which in turn creates positive health outcomes and drives longer-term health savings.
The pharmacy is the location where patients most frequently interact with their health care. By expanding health capabilities and services within our pharmacy benefits, we can have a positive impact on patient and member health. Beyond securing the lowest possible cost for medicines, we also work with clients to design benefits that include digital touchpoints and personalized support so that every member can start and stay on their medicines.
As telemedicine and digital health remain paramount, these digital touchpoints are critical in keeping our 100 million members engaged in their health.
Benefits that meet patients where they are
COVID-19 has underscored how important it is for us to maintain and enhance our services for clients and members in our physically distant world.
For example, members with chronic conditions have access to specially trained clinicians at their fingertips through our Pharmacy Advisor program. The program offers personalized support over the phone – or in person if preferred – for questions on managing a chronic condition, how different medicines may affect each other and how to handle side effects.
Through our nurse-led chronic care management program, Accordant, patients with rare, chronic diseases can get virtual support and remote monitoring to help with managing their benefits and conditions.
Our Point Solutions Management offering helps employers and health plans augment their pharmacy benefits with carefully vetted digital solutions that address key aspects of health care costs. These tools guide members in strategies to reduce worry and anxiety, improve heart health, get better sleep and make smarter nutritional choices. They are easy to use and come at no additional cost to members enrolled in a participating health plan.
We’re bringing these practical solutions to our clients and members through an integrated model that draws upon our deep knowledge, longstanding partnerships and industry expertise.
Prescription medicines are the most cost-effective part of our health care ecosystem, but they’re only clinically effective if patients can afford them. The amount that patients pay out-of-pocket has long been a point of contention in our health care system. Further underscoring this point, a recent CVS Health survey found that more than 70% of patients are concerned about the cost of their prescriptions.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to create financial hardship in virtually every community. Recognizing this reality, solutions that help ensure that patients have access to prescriptions will be mission critical.
Clinical strategies to manage drug costs
Utilization management strategies are a cornerstone of our pharmacy benefit strategies. They enable appropriate use of medicines and help to mitigate the impact of high-cost drugs that do not demonstrate a clear clinical benefit.
We are closely monitoring trends in utilization, particularly high-cost specialty drugs, to stay ahead of the curve and ensure that patients can access clinically appropriate new therapies, while reducing wasteful spend.
We use innovative strategies to encourage the use of lower cost and clinically equivalent generic options when appropriate. Through these strategies, we continue to blunt the impact of price inflation, prioritize lower-cost generic options when clinically appropriate, and keep members’ out-of-pocket costs in check.
Prioritizing member savings and adherence
We also know that patients want to know whether their drug is covered, what it will cost out-of-pocket and have the ability to discuss with their provider. Just because a drug is expensive, doesn’t mean it’s the best option for every patient. That’s why we utilize patient-centric programs to make sure patients can access medicines that will create the best clinical outcome at the lowest possible cost.
Our approximately 100 million members, their prescribing physicians and pharmacists provides have immediate access to real-time prescription benefit information, including how much a drug will cost. With this information at hand, physicians and pharmacists can identify an alternative, clinically appropriate option, when possible.
We also offer a robust set of consumer-friendly tools to help members better understand how to access the most effective medicine at the lowest cost. With the digital tool Savings Advisor, members can view costs readily, enabling them to make more informed decisions about medicines choices.
Serving as a trusted partner to many of America’s leading employers, health plans and government programs, we value our role in keeping their members – totaling approximately 100 million people – on their prescription drug therapies as prescribed by their doctors. Every day, we’re able to accomplish this with tools and solutions that empower patients to access the most effective treatment at the lowest possible cost.
At a time when our health care system is facing many strains, including increased financial and economic pressures for our clients, delivering drug costs savings is critical. Without access to medicines, we know this: Patients get sicker, they need more care – and ultimately – health care costs increase for everyone. That’s why we remain laser-focused on getting patients their medicines and care in a way that is personalized, convenient and – above all – affordable.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and as we continue to navigate it together for the foreseeable future, we’re working as a consultative partner to our clients in helping ensure that their drug benefit plans keep their members adherent and healthy.
What we do every day – and accomplish for our clients – doesn’t change in the face of this pandemic, but its importance is now greater than ever.
We’ll remain focused on four key areas as we deliver drug cost savings:
Prescription medicines are the most cost-effective part of our health care ecosystem, but they’re only clinically effective if patients can access them. We keep patients adherent and healthy by ensuring they can access the medicine that will deliver the best outcome at the most efficient cost.
Because no two clients’ needs are the same, we customize our services to deliver the greatest value to both clients and their unique member populations. As our clients face the economic realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re providing solutions that better support adherence.
For patients, especially those living with complex or chronic illnesses, ensuring an uninterrupted supply of medicines is crucial to their overall health and well-being. We’re staying one step ahead to ensure patients who rely on medicines will always have an adequate supply.
Patients now require health care solutions at the palm of their hand and in their home. We’re leveraging our tools and services to ensure that patients can continue to get their medicines and care without leaving the comfort and safety of their homes.
National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics
We believe that we are uniquely positioned to address some of the health challenges communities across the U.S. face. To do so, the CVS Health Foundation has partnered with the National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics (NAFC) on a multi-year program, with grants awarded to free and charitable clinics nationwide to increase access to care, improve health outcomes and lower overall health care costs across the country in innovative and strategic ways. Since launching the partnership with NAFC, the CVS Health Foundation has delivered a total of more than $4.5 million in funding to free and charitable clinics across the country.
Increased access to care
Grants awarded in partnership with the National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics have allowed grantees to increase operating hours and the number of patient visits, resulting in a decrease in the number of emergency room visits and improved patient compliance.
Our partnership with NAFC enables us to better identify and support free and charitable clinics that help to improve outcomes among patients with chronic conditions by offering a wide range of coordinated services, including screening, fitness classes, case management, and health education. Patients who benefit from these services are typically uninsured, underinsured, or otherwise unable to access a variety of health care services.
National Association of Community Health Centers
At CVS Health, our purpose of helping people on their path to better health guides everything that we do. We are committed to providing our patients, customers, clients and the communities they serve with the resources they need to achieve this. In 2012, the CVS Health Foundation launched a partnership with the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) on a multi-year program to award grants in support of the development of innovative, community-based programs that expand access to affordable, quality health care for underserved populations and expand the focus on chronic disease and prescription drug abuse management and prevention. Since launching the partnership with NACHC, the CVS Health Foundation has delivered more than $5 million in funding to community health centers across the United States.
Combating opioid abuse in underserved communities
To address the growing public health change of opioid misuse and abuse, the CVS Health Foundation also turned to NACHC to help tackle the problem. Community health centers have a unique opportunity to address the opioid crisis and support drug abuse for patients in their communities. Through this partnership, grant opportunities are made available to community health centers that have established or plan to establish community-based care model for screening, identifying, engaging, and coordinating care for patients inappropriately using prescription medications and other substances. In addition to funding, grant recipients also receive access to free training, technical assistance, and coaching services, as well as the opportunity to tap into the collaborative power of health center teams and behavioral health integration experts.
Additionally, the CVS Health Foundation and NACHC convened a panel of experts to develop a protocol of best practices for community health centers on provider prescribing guidelines, medication-assisted treatment, behavioral health, and collaboration with other community organizations to treat and prevent prescription drug abuse among at-risk patients. These guidelines serve as a resource for community health centers receiving grants from this partnership to provide treatment for opioid addiction.
A community health center fights back against opioid abuseA community health center fights back against opioid abuse
A CVS Health Foundation grant is helping the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center enhance their opioid abuse treatment programs.
2017 and 2018 NACHC Community Health Grant recipients2017 and 2018 NACHC Community Health Grant recipients
Grant funding from the CVS Health Foundation helps the clinics serve those in need in their local communities.
CVS Health plans to double its COVID-19 drive-thru test sites to a total of more than 4,000 across the country
Company has administered three million COVID-19 tests since March
WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) today announced plans to add more than 2,000 new COVID-19 drive-thru test sites at select CVS Pharmacy locations across the country to support the company's ongoing efforts to increase access to testing and help slow the spread of the virus.
CVS Health currently manages the largest number of independently run COVID-19 test sites in the country, and with these new locations the company expects to have more than 4,000 operating by mid-October. The new locations will open in waves over the next several weeks and build on the company's ability to support testing in 33 states and Washington, DC, beginning with the opening of more than 400 sites this Friday.
"Since opening our first test site in March, we've been able to quickly adapt to the changing landscape in order to make it easier for people in the communities we serve to access testing," said Jon Roberts, Chief Operating Officer, CVS Health and acting President, CVS Pharmacy. "We recognize the critical role testing plays in helping to manage the spread of the virus and are incredibly proud of how our teams have responded to this need while continuing to take care of our customers, clients and patients."
Self-swab tests are no cost to patients and available to individuals meeting Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria.
When arriving for testing, patients are asked to follow signage or the instructions of the staff onsite. Procedures vary by location and patients may be directed to stay in their cars and proceed to either the pharmacy drive-thru window or a parking space or tent located in the parking lot or, in very limited locations, to enter a CVS store. Patients will be provided with a test kit and given instructions, and a CVS Pharmacy team member will observe the self-swab process.
Currently, most test results from specimens collected at CVS test sites across the country will be available within 2 to 3 days.
A complete list of CVS Pharmacy drive-thru test sites can be found here.
More information on steps CVS Health has taken to address the COVID-19 pandemic is available at the company's frequently updated COVID-19 resource center.
For downloadable COVID-19 testing media assets, including photos and video, please visit the Media Resource Center.
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.