By offering telehealth via its mobile app, CVS is putting healthcare in the palm of your hand

CVS Health announced on Wednesday that it will begin offering virtual visits to its retail health clinic, MinuteClinic, through its mobile app.

The company said the new service is uniquely convenient. Patients can connect with a board-certified provider using their personal cell phones 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

A virtual visit will cost $59. The virtual visits can treat patients over 2 years old for “minor illnesses and injuries, skin conditions and other wellness needs,” according to a press release. If the telehealth provider decides the patient needs to be seen in-person, he or she will recommend the patient visit a primary care doctor or nearby in-person MinuteClinic. 

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A CVS pilot study found that 95% of patients were satisfied with the convenience and overall experience of telehealth. 

As of Aug. 8, the service is available in nine states and Washington, D.C. These states include Idaho and Mississippi, where CVS currently does not have brick-and-mortar MinuteClinic locations. CVS expects the service to be available nationwide “where allowed” by the end of this year.

Amy Lanctot, a spokesperson for CVS, added that the new service allows MinuteClinic “to expand its geographic reach within each state in which the service is offered.”

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“This new telehealth offering is not a direct result of the pending Aetna acquisition,” Lanctot said, but it is “very much in keeping with the activities that we would anticipate the combined company would undertake.”

CVS’ service will be offered through Teladoc, the same platform through which Aetna offers its telehealth service. CVS’ acquisition of Aetna is pending. Teladoc CEO Jason Gorevic called it an "exciting advancement." In a first-quarter earnings call. Gorevic said Teladoc was uniquely positioned to capitalize on the CVS-Aetna merger, adding that the company has had “great discussions with them about how Teladoc can be part of a 'bricks and clicks' environment.”