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CVS: Consumers ‘Incredibly Challenged’ by Current Healthcare Landscape

Retail, pharmacy and healthcare company CVS Health is continuing to roll out new offerings aimed at helping consumers keep up with their wellness, as people are placing more importance on their health after nearly two years of COVID-19.

CVS Health recently launched Aetna Virtual Primary Care, which the company says “reimagines the primary care experience” and makes it easier for people to get the services they need. Patients have access to a panel of physicians and a team of specialists based on their health needs; access to nurses through text or phone calls for pre- or post-visit care; and a personalized preventative healthcare plan, among other features. Virtual visits can also be augmented by in-person appointments at MinuteClinic and HealthHUB locations.

“The consumer has been incredibly challenged by the complexity of the healthcare system, and our overall strategy is to make sure that we can provide access points with lower costs, higher quality, convenience and overall engagement,” CVS Health President and CEO Karen Lynch told analysts on a conference call on Wednesday (Nov. 3). “Those factors will help us with the long-term strategy of driving down healthcare costs.”

According to PYMNTS’ Connected Economy Research, nearly 56% of consumers have made a telemedicine appointment in the past 12 months, and 6% use telehealth services multiple times per day. One-third of consumers say they are highly connected when it comes to their health.

Related news: Aetna to Go Digital for Payments, Statements, Remittances

In August, CVS also began offering consumers access to licensed clinical social workers at select locations in Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas after a pilot project launched in January. These professional mental healthcare providers offer both in-person and telehealth sessions to help those dealing with stress, anxiety, grief, depression and other mental health issues.

Lynch said the company’s services “are responsive to evolving consumer needs … and our touchpoints allow for unmatched impact.”

Read more: COVID-Related Stress, Rising Demand See CVS Expand Into Mental Health Counseling

Last month, rival Walgreens launched a new business segment focused on healthcare to create a more unified offering for consumers. CEO Roz Brewer told investors and analysts during a presentation that the company is building “a range of consumer-centric healthcare solutions, which will form the engine for our next phase of growth.”

“We have established a tech-enabled care model powered by a healthcare platform that is omnichannel and personalized for the consumers we serve,” she added.

See also: Walgreens Launches New Business Segment Focused on Healthcare

COVID Tests and Vaccinations

Officially, for the three months that ended Sept. 30, CVS Health’s total revenues increased 10% year over year to nearly $74 billion. Year to date, revenue is up 8.2% to $215.5 billion. The company’s healthcare benefits segment saw revenues up 9.5%, while pharmacy revenues were up 9.3% and retail revenues were up 10% year over year.

Executives attributed much of the revenue growth to the administration of COVID-19 vaccines and tests as well as increased prescriptions and front store volume, both of which were adversely impacted at the height of the pandemic. CVS administered more than eight million COVID-19 tests and more than 11 million vaccines across the country in its third quarter, a drop in the number of vaccinations compared to the second quarter, when it gave 17 million shots, but an increase of 2.5 million in the number of tests administered.

Going into 2022, CVS Chief Financial Officer Shawn Guertin told analysts to expect vaccine and testing volumes to decrease to about 30-40% of the levels seen this year, though it’s highly dependent on how the next few months play out.

“They both are down fairly significantly in that same general range — I think we have testing down right now a little bit more than vaccines for next year,” Guertin said on the conference call.

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