While retailers and healthcare providers have been venturing into telehealth for years, CVS is making a major move in this arena, with plans to roll out MinuteClinic Video Visits throughout the U.S.
The service will be available via smartphone 24 hours a day, seven days a week, offering people an easier way to seek treatment for minor injuries and illnesses.
For now, the service will cost $59, but the drug chain, which is still thrashing through its proposed merger with Aetna, will add an insurance component to it in the months ahead.
A spokesperson for the company says it’s currently promoting the service on its website and app, but that it will start a comprehensive digital media campaign in September in Arizona, California, Florida, Idaho, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, New Hampshire and Virginia, as well as Washington D.C.
As it expands to new states, “we are planning to increase our marketing efforts and will be targeting the new areas as the service rolls out,” she tells Marketing Daily.
It’s expected to be available nationwide by the end of the year, where allowed.
Consumers launch the Video Visits, developed in collaboration with Teladoc’s technology platform, via the CVS app. Patients complete a questionnaire and are then matched with a board-certified provider licensed in their state. The provider reviews the information and then proceeds with the video-enabled visit. He or she forwards a prescription, if needed, to the patient’s preferred pharmacy, and refers them for any required follow-up visits.
Patients must be at least two years old to be eligible for the service.
The Woonsocket, R.I.-based chain has been testing telehealth offerings for some time and says its research finds that 95% of patients are satisfied with the care they get via telehealth.
The news comes at a pivotal time for CVS. It says progress on the Aetna transaction is consistent with expectations, and that it is expected to close in the third or fourth quarter.
Still, the American Medical Association, which has been objecting to the merger for several months, just announced it has given the U.S. Department of Justice an “exhaustive analysis" of the deal, saying it would decrease competition and increase drug prices. The AMA again asked the DOJ to block the deal.
CVS also announced its earnings today, noting that revenues rose 2.2% to $46.7 billion, with same-store prescription volume growth climbing 9.5%.
Same-store sales rose 5.9%, and pharmacy same-store sales advanced 8.3% in the quarter.
But front-of-store-sales, a closely watched metric that covers beauty, food and other categories, fell 1%.