New digital innovation lab at CVS will focus on health

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BOSTON — CVS Health has officially opened its Digital Innovation Lab, a facility focused on developing cutting-edge services and personalized capabilities for an accessible and integrated pharmacy and health experience.

CVS Digital Innovation Lab_Vijay Kukreja_June 2015

Vijay Kukreja of CVS Health points out some capabilities being developed at the lab.

The lab will be a hub for the company’s rapidly growing digital team. “The work we are doing here is not only cool — and yes it is cool — but it’s important work,” said CVS Health chief digital officer Brian Tilzer. “We’re going to invent things here that don’t exist anywhere on the planet, things that are going to be focused on what truly matters — our health.”

The lab’s opening reflects, in part, a doubling of the company’s digital investment. “Digital technologies are ubiquitous and highly configurable — a powerful combination because it allows us to empower our customers anytime and anywhere,” Tilzer said.

CVS Health has increasingly focused on giving customers a connected health experience when, where and how people want it by integrating the pharmacy and front-end experience, as well as through health tools and services. The lab will enable the company’s digital team to run like a start-up, accelerating the speed to market and impact of digital innovation across the enterprise, by using its resources to rapidly test, improve and implement new programs.

Digital devices are “always on, always with us and always connected,” noted Tilzer, “so we have an opportunity to engage people as never before.”

Equating the lab’s pursuits with the company’s decision to end tobacco product sales, he said, “We are being equally bold with the commitment, focus and effort we’re going to make in using digital to change the health outcomes of millions of Americans.”

Products and ideas displayed during a tour of the lab include a “connected otoscope” which can be attached to a smartphone as a remote diagnostic device for ear infections. A connected blood pressure monitor allows data to be easily shared with medical professionals, caregivers or other apps to help customers better manage their personal health. Through connected blood glucose monitors, diabetes patients can track their glucose levels and understand how the levels are affected by their physical activity. Data can then be seamlessly shared with medical professionals and ­caregivers.

An Apple Watch app provides prescription notifications and easy access to information to drive adherence. Insurance card scanning reduces the hassle of updating insurance information, allowing users to scan their card on CVS’ mobile app, which then instantly updates across store systems. Driver’s license scanning lowers barriers to CVS account registration by auto-populating information from users’ driver’s licenses.

“Our vision is a transformational one,” said Tilzer. “We envision empowering patients in a way that was never possible before without this technology to help them and their families live healthier lives. We are going to make the full breadth of pharmacy and health care services that they need accessible, anytime, anywhere, leveraging digital.”

The lab will employ up to 100 team members, complementing the work of the more than 100 digital professionals at the company’s Digital Experience Center in its home office in Woonsocket, R.I. The company is actively recruiting talent with expertise in everything from application development and creative digital design to engineering, coding, usability and customer experience.

To attract “the best and the brightest,” CVS Health has established a high-energy culture focusing on creativity, openness, collaboration “and, yes, the word fun,” said Tilzer. “It is possible to have fun in the context of a Fortune 10 company, and we have a lot of pride around that.”

He noted that the lab could have been located anywhere, but the site in Boston’s Back Bay is at the juncture of technology innovation in Cambridge, Mass., and the health care innovation in the Longwood area and the rest of ­Boston.


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