Inside This Issue - News
CVS exec: Rx services just part of equation
April 11th, 2011
MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Chain drug retailers need to expand their health care offerings beyond the pharmacy if they hope to meet the needs of their current and future customers, contends CVS Caremark Corp. senior vice president and chief marketing officer Rob Price.
Speaking at SymphonyIRI Group Inc.’s recent Summit 2011 event here, Price noted that Americans have a growing need for access to quality health care. The aging of the baby-boom generation represents a relentless wave — a “silver tsunami” — of people who are turning 65. In addition, already about half of the United States population is suffering from one or more chronic diseases, he said, and the incidence of such chronic conditions as hypertension and diabetes is expected to grow by 40% from 2003 to 2023.
Those trends point to a growing need for access to health care services, Price said, but today there is already a shortage of primary care physicians in the United States, and that shortage will only get worse.
“So we have this enormous wave of seniors, this emergence of chronic illness, and also a deficit in terms of the amount of care that’s available,” Price said.
An additional health care challenge is the issue of patients not embracing healthy behaviors, he said. The problem ranges from people not exercising to patients not taking their medications or not refilling their prescriptions.
A number of retailers see these trends as an opportunity to step in and provide the health care services that people need, and Price argued that CVS is particularly well positioned to do so.
“What we’re hearing from our customers is three fairly simple messages,” Price said. “The first is, ‘Please make this easier.’ People need simplification. We’re also hearing that people need access to know-how. Their doctors are great, but they need more than that, they need someone whom they can see every day or every week to navigate through these health care issues. And the other message we’re hearing from our customers is, ‘Know me — as an individual, not as a number.’
“So these are the three organizing principles that are helping us reshape ourselves in the context of the changing health care environment.”
On the simplicity front, for example, Price pointed to CVS’ more edited merchandise assortments, color-coded store departments and lower-profile shelving, all of which are designed to help consumers find what they need more easily.
When it comes to know-how, Price pointed to CVS Caremark’s specialty pharmacy services and its 560 MinuteClinic departments.
“Ultimately this is about weaving together a more empowered health care team,” said Price, who noted that CVS plans to double the number of clinics it operates within the next five years, and added that the company is evolving the concept of being a resource for people with chronic conditions as well.
CVS’ 10-year-old ExtraCare loyalty program is addressing the company’s need to connect to its customers personally, and that program too is evolving, Price said. The ExtraCare Advantage for Diabetes program, for example, has 1.5 million enrollees and provides offers and information relevant to diabetes patients and caregivers.