Jumping into doctors' territory, CVS plans to expand program to help manage patients’ chronic diseases

CVS pharmacy
CVS plans to expand into chronic care management. (Mike Mozart/CC BY 2.0)

CVS Health plans to make further inroads into what has traditionally been the purview of doctors: managing patients’ chronic diseases.

The company announced on Tuesday that it will expand its program to help patients manage conditions that include asthma and high blood pressure, according to The Wall Street Journal.

It's making the move to counter slower store sales and the defection of some large insurance providers, the Journal said. It hopes to increase business by using its pharmacists, in-store medical clinics and data network to expand into chronic care management.

Last December, CVS launched a program to help patients with diabetes improve medication adherence, blood sugar control and lifestyle management. It will now expand that effort and hopes to win more contracts with insurers and compete with other companies in the pharmacy-benefits sector that have taken away business, the Journal said.

Over the next two years, CVS will roll out programs to manage asthma, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia and depression.

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At no out-of-pocket cost, patients in the diabetes program receive one-on-one support and coaching by phone and at CVS pharmacies and MinuteClinics, which are typically staffed by nurse practitioners and physician assistants. Participants also receive a glucometer that sends blood glucose numbers digitally to CVS, so clinicians are alerted to potential problems.

In order for patients to participate in CVS’ program to manage chronic disease, they must belong to a health plan that has a contract with its pharmacy-benefit business.

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The move announced yesterday follows CVS’ announcement in July that it is expanding an 8-year partnership with the Cleveland Clinic aimed at improving care for patients in Ohio and Florida to include enhanced data-sharing capabilities and EHR interoperability.

Physician practices have already faced competition from CVS’ MinuteClinics, which operate in 33 states and the District of Columbia and offer quick, low-cost primary care. Like other retail clinics, they are designed to respond to patient demand and help to fill in care gaps that often lead to unneeded emergency room visits.