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CVS steps up consumer engagement

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NEW YORK — A successful pilot program has set the stage for CVS Caremark Corp.’s rollout of its Consumer Engagement Engine, which provides real-time clinical messaging to pharmacists.

The clinical communications are integrated into normal pharmacy work flow, becoming part of the prescription filling process, CVS Caremark president and chief operating officer Larry Merlo told analysts last month. Messages cover adherence, potential gaps in care and possible lower-cost therapies.

The feedback from pharmacists in the pilot "has been terrific," Merlo said at the Citi Investment Research Food & Drug Retail Conference here. "We’re very excited to get that out in the market."

The engine, already operating in Caremark call centers, is a data integration and intelligence program providing a comprehensive view of the customer. It pools data from all customer touch points — including retail and specialty pharmacies, mail order, MinuteClinics, CVS and Caremark web sites, telephone pharmacy service, and the ExtraCare loyalty program — to develop a full picture of a person’s interaction with the company and his or her prescription purchase and usage behavior, as well as related personal and health care information.

The engine answers the challenge of showing results from a pharmacy initiative, CVS Caremark chairman and chief executive officer Tom Ryan said at the conference. Pharmacy benefit management clients want new clinical programs, but they want to see results, he said. Tests of the related Pharmacy Advisor program have improved adherence 10% to 15%, he noted. "It’s simply because of the face-to-face interaction," he said.

Addressing skepticism over whether the engine can be applied in stores, Ryan said the consultations take a minute or less. "It’s quick. It’s across 7,000 stores. It’s not taking someone in a consulting room and talking to him for 35 minutes."

The engine will allow pharmacists to focus on such disease states as diabetes, asthma and cardiovascular conditions by letting them have information “at their fingertips,” he said. "The performance is just dramatic."

Merlo said the clinical messaging lets pharmacists "prioritize what is most important for that particular patient at that point in time."

Ryan said the engine presented "a huge opportunity" for retaining current PBM clients and attracting new ones. He also said it could eventually be extended to pharmacies outside of CVS Caremark.


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