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06/22/2021

As Pandemic Improves, CVS Focuses on New Health Trends and Community Role

CVS Health has taken on a huge role during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing millions of tests and vaccines.
CVS Health store

Now, as the U.S. begins to emerge from the pandemic, with a vaccination rate above 65% for adults who have received at least one vaccine dose, and states reopening, CVS is examining the health and wellness trends that are likely to stick around and continue to be important in the future. 

According to CVS Pharmacy/Retail President Neela Montgomery, the company also still has a lot of work to do to improve the vaccination rate in the U.S. 

“The pharmacy is the most trusted healthcare partner, and we believe part of overcoming vaccine hesitancy is making it available to communities that need it and really focusing on education, safety and convenience,” Montgomery said during the National Retail Federation’s recent live event, NRF Retail Converge. “We’ve administered 24 million vaccines. There's still more to do, [as] not everyone has chosen to take a vaccine. That's still an important part of what we need to work on ... but I'm thrilled with the progress we've made and the role we've been able to play.”

Unfortunately, there’s still a relatively large proportion of Americans who don’t plan to get vaccinated, according to Montgomery. That will hinder the American recovery coming out of the pandemic, but CVS will also continue to work with government agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to engage communities to get vaccinated. 

The pharmacy chain, which includes health care provider Aetna and 9,600 locations in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, also launched a vaccine sweepstakes with major prizes such as free cruises, tropical vacations, a VIP trip to Super Bowl LVI, date nights and more. Customers who received or plan to receive a COVID-19 vaccine through CVS Health can enter the sweepstakes. CVS hopes the sweepstakes will incentivize more Americans to get vaccinated. 

Beyond the vaccine rollout, CVS is already considering how Americans will interact with their health care providers post pandemic. After many Americans delayed care while COVID-19 was spreading rapidly throughout the country, CVS is looking to ensure broader access to more health care services. Specifically, the company is hoping to see its pharmacists take on more health care responsibilities to meet patients where they are in their communities. 

“It is really important that people have access to care that's convenient, affordable and simple to navigate,” Montgomery said. “I think we are looking at legislation in a number of places where we would like more pharmacists to be able to prescribe more health services in the community, [from areas like] birth control, community health services and behavioral health, or managing diabetes. We are convinced the people of the pharmacist and role of community health hub destinations can accelerate.”

That vision tracks with CVS’ goals over the past few years to expand health care services. The company launched its Health Hub model in 2019 and has since expanded it since, with the goal of opening 1,500 such models by the end of 2021. The model offers expanded health care services within CVS locations. 

The pandemic placed a spotlight on a number of health and wellness trends, according to Montgomery, with customers looking to boost their immunities and invest in self care. Another health trend likely to influence Americans is the importance of general wellness, after roughly 65% of Americans reported gaining weight in 2020. Consumers also rapidly adopted virtual care over the last 15 months, which CVS sees as another critical trend that will continue. With these changing consumer health and wellness preferences, CVS aims to offer an “omnichannel experience,” through in-store and virtual care services, Montgomery said.

“We really feel we can deliver an integrated care delivery model that can lower medical costs and provide access and convenience,” she said.