With CVS’ planned acquisition of Aetna expected to close prior to Thanksgiving, the combined company plans to tackle health outcomes and services while reducing health costs. The health retailer is looking to open concept stores in the beginning of 2019, CNBC reported.
CVS CEO Larry Merlo said, according to the outlet, “we’re making the consumer experience, which will be an increasingly important competitive differentiator, and we are hard at work creating a plan to differentiate CVS Health in these patient journeys with the goal of making them simpler and more personalized while making care more accessible.”
The retailer plans to focus on the management of chronic conditions, such as asthma, kidney disease and cardiovascular disease, while also seeking to encompass more services at its MinuteClinics. At the same time, CVS plans to leverage its stores with clinical programs from Aetna to help patients after discharge.
The news comes as CVS is testing a program in Boston in which customers get free delivery on prescriptions and online purchases, among other perks. In a prior report, CNBC, citing CVS, said the program, which is called CarePass, also includes access to a pharmacy helpline, a 20 percent discount on CVS-branded products and a $10 coupon each month. The membership costs $48 a year or $5 a month — lower than what Amazon charges for its Prime membership service.
The program, which is only being tested in Boston currently, is aimed at pushing back against Amazon, as it can bundle prescription drugs with regular, everyday-type items, something Amazon can’t do yet. Amazon is eyeing the drug market in a big way, and recently acquired the pharmacy startup PillPack. That deal is viewed as a big threat to the pharmacies, because it gives Amazon an entrance into prescription drugs. It is forcing the drugstore operators to think outside the box when it comes to launching services and making deals.