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Telehealth push is initiated at CVS

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WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Health is working with telehealth companies American Well, Doctor On Demand and Teladoc to explore how direct-to-consumer telehealth, retail pharmacy and retail clinic providers can improve patient care.

The telehealth firms will begin receiving referred CVS customers as well as referring their own customers to 150 retail clinics in six states by the fourth quarter. Telehealth is considered the next major step in health care.

“During our initial phase of exploration of telehealth in our store-based clinics, we learned that we could deliver excellent quality care and that patients were extremely satisfied with the care provided,” said Dr. Andrew Sussman, executive vice president and associate chief medical officer at CVS Health and president of MinuteClinic.

MinuteClinic data recently published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine showed that, overall, 95% of patients were highly satisfied with the quality of care they received, the ease with which telehealth technology was integrated into the visit, and the timeliness and convenience of their care.

“As we examine additional ways to utilize telehealth to improve and expand patient care, we have the opportunity to partner with telehealth organizations in the care of patients at home,” Sussman added. “In doing so, CVS Health will add value for patients, clients and health plans by improving access to low-cost quality care.”

CVS Health is piloting several telehealth solutions, including making telehealth physician care accessible via CVS Health digital properties. CVS will also explore enabling MinuteClinic providers to consult with telehealth physicians to expand the scope of care offered at the retail health clinics. MinuteClinic, too, will continue to provide telehealth care to patients in CVS stores and explore serving as a site for in-person exams to facilitate telehealth medical ­visits.

“With the increased demand for patient care anticipated in future years as a result of the expansion of coverage through the Affordable Care Act, the primary care physician shortage, aging of the population and epidemic of chronic disease, telehealth gives us the opportunity to offer high-quality care to an expanded group of patients in a variety of convenient and cost-effective locations,” Sussman stated.

The initiative is part of CVS Health’s broader connected health efforts. “A key pillar of our strategy is forging the right partnerships within the industry,” said Brian Tilzer, senior vice president and chief digital officer. “We recognize that some of the best ideas are already being developed, so we’re committed to partnering with other companies to explore and expand on these ideas together.”


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