CIO Stephen J. Gold: 3 ways CVS Health uses technology to improve medication adherence, customer service

CVS Health CIO Stephen J. Gold said pushing the boundaries of innovation has been his top priority since taking the post in 2012. The retail giant uses the reams of patient data it collects—along with a proprietary program it calls an “engagement engine”—to make filling and picking up prescriptions more convenient.

But it also helps patients adhere to their medication regimens using technologies from text messaging to geolocating, he told the Wall Street Journal.

RELATED: The rise of retail healthcare and what it means for traditional primary care practices

“The data we get from patients’ prescription behaviors is key. It’s the patient’s profile, their gender, their age, any allergies they may have, any disease state. All the information that is needed to appropriately care for the patient,” he said in the Q&A.

All that data can also be a boon for providers that partner with retail health outlets.

“If you have a primary care doctor … then you’re going to see that person once or twice a year, on average. But you’re in the pharmacy once or twice a month,"  Alex Hurd, senior director of product development, growth and payer innovation for the health and wellness division at Walmart said at an event earlier this year.

“One in three individuals who get a screening have not engaged with the healthcare system at all in the previous year.” Walmart wants to build an “ecosystem” that facilitates referrals to specialists or preventative and wellness care, he said.

RELATED: Telehealth, remote monitoring and home care help providers meet patients where they are

And such partnerships can also improve population health by making it easier for patients to fill prescriptions can help improve adherence.

Three ways CVS Health is doing that, according to the WSJ article:

  1. Text message reminders not only when it’s time for a refill and when prescriptions are ready for pickup but also for other services the clinics offer, such as blood-glucose testing for diabetics or vaccinations.
  2. A digital tool called ScriptSync that helps patients synchronize multiple prescription refills so patients don’t have to make multiple trips to the pharmacy.  
  3. Text messages that use geotargeting to identify and warn patients in advance of a storm so they can fill prescriptions before it hits.

CVS Health's MinuteClinics, which operate in 33 states and the District of Columbia and offer quick, low-cost primary care, were designed to respond to patient demand and help to fill in care gaps that often lead to unneeded emergency room visits, Eileen Howard Boone, senior vice president of corporate social responsibility and philanthropy for CVS Health, said in an interview last fall.

She added that CVS Health will continue to expand the reach of its clinics by offering more integrated telehealth services to connect with more remote patients.