When Erin Pensa, Public Relations Director at CVS, talked to Loyalty360 back in May about the company’s goals surrounding a new and improved customer experience, she talked about a “re-imagined shopping experience that makes it easier for customers to find ‘better-for-you’ options through the addition of innovative in-store features that empower customers to make healthy choices.”

Tipping its hat toward the company’s theme of “empowered health,” and fast-forwarding to current day, CVS Health acquired Aetna, which is one of the nation’s leading diversified health care benefits companies. Including the assumption of Aetna’s debt, according to a company release, the total value of the transaction is $77 billion.

CVS declined additional comment on the transaction and pointed toward its release.

CVS Health President and EO Larry J. Merlo said: “This combination brings together the expertise of two great companies to remake the consumer health care experience. With the analytics of Aetna and CVS Health’s human touch, we will create a health care platform built around individuals. We look forward to working with the talented people at Aetna to position the combined company as America’s front door to quality health care, integrating more closely the work of doctors, pharmacists, other health care professionals and health benefits companies to create a platform that is easier to use and less expensive for consumers.” 

Aetna chairman and CEO Mark T. Bertolini added: “This is the next step in our journey, positioning the combined company to dramatically further empower consumers. Together with CVS Health, we will better understand our members’ health goals, guide them through the health care system, and help them achieve their best health. Aetna has a proud tradition of continually innovating to address unmet consumer needs and providing leading products and services to the marketplace.”

According to the release, the transaction will yield the following consumer benefits:

There will be expanded opportunities to bring health care services to consumers every day. CVS Pharmacy locations will include space for wellness, clinical and pharmacy services, vision, hearing, nutrition, beauty, and medical equipment, in addition to the products and services customers currently enjoy. An entirely new health services offering available in many locations will function as a community-based health hub dedicated to connecting the pathways needed to improve health and answering patients’ questions about their health conditions, as well as prescription drugs and health coverage. 

This personalized health care experience will be delivered by connecting Aetna’s extensive network of providers with greater consumer access through CVS Health. This includes more than 9,700 CVS Pharmacy locations and 1,100 MinuteClinic walk-in clinics—as well as further extensions into the community through Omnicare’s senior pharmacy solutions, Coram’s infusion services, and the more than 4,000 CVS Health nursing professionals providing in-clinic and home-based care across the nation.

The entire health care system will also benefit from broader use of data and analytics, leading to improved patient health at substantially lower cost. This will be achieved, for example, by helping patients avoid unnecessary hospital readmissions. Twenty percent of Medicare patients are readmitted to the hospital soon after being discharged at significant annual costs, much of which is avoidable. Readmission rates can be cut in half if patients have a complete review of their medications after discharge from the hospital to help them manage their care at home. In addition, home devices to monitor activity levels, pulse, and respiratory rates can be used to prevent readmissions. Rather than feeling lost and confused, selected high risk patients discharged from the hospital, or their caregivers, will be able to stop at a health hub location to access services such as medication evaluations, home monitoring and use of durable medical equipment, as needed. All of these services will complement and be integrated with the care provided by their physician and medical team.  

The combined entity will be able to help address the growing cost of treating chronic diseases in important ways. For example, there are 30 million Americans suffering from diabetes, costing the health care system approximately $245 billion annually. Patients with diabetes will receive care in between doctor visits through face-to-face counseling at a store-based health hub and remote monitoring of key indicators such as blood glucose levels. When needed, patients can receive text messages to let them know when their glucose levels deviate from normal ranges. As a follow up, patients can receive counseling on medication adherence, pick up diabetes-related supplies and engage ancillary services such as counsel on weight loss and programs designed to reverse diabetes through nutrition. This will result in better control of their blood sugar levels and better health, which should be appreciated by both patients and their doctors. 

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