CVS explores new concepts in healthcare

By Albert DiPiero MD MPH

CVS - the drug store chain which is also one of America's largest retailers - is not waiting to see what Amazon is up to. CVS is pushing ahead transforming itself from retail drugstore to a health services company, much of this motivated by the threat posed by Amazon. CVS has now opened three concept stores, called “ HealthHUB” stores, in Houston. These stores are characterized by:

“...closed-off space for classes, such as yoga, as well as expanded space for health treatments.”

“More than 20 percent of the floor space at the concept stores is devoted to health care services, including wellness products and personalized care. Pharmacists in the HealthHUB will also make regular calls and in-person consultations with certain patients to help them stay on track with their prescription drug plans.”

In the meantime, “Traditional retail sales at CVS are increasingly less important to the company's finances.” CVS has also recently acquired and integrated the health insurer Aetna and says it will use the insurer along with CVS stores to help patients “become healthier” and deliver more affordable care. This all reflects the growing intense competition between brick-and-mortar retailers and digital retailers, such as Amazon. CVS, I believe, sees health services as the way it can differentiate itself from Amazon and similar threats. Whether CVS Minute Clinics - which are located inside of CVS drug stores - can provide the type of care Americans want and need, remains to be seen. We have deep experience with on-demand clinics and have reason to believe that such clinics would have to greatly increase their scope of care and their throughput in order to succeed clinically or financially. Bottom line remains: competition is increasing, and nontraditional providers such as drugstores are feeling the pressure and are moving into other areas of “care” leveraging their significant assets in neighborhood stores.

Read USA TODAY: CVS introduces new concept store with more health care, less retail

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