How telehealth connects patients to care

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Through virtual visits we’re helping more people on their path to better health. For many, it’s a new kind of care.

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"As the country reopens, telehealth will play an important role providing health care,” says Adam Pellegrini, Senior Vice President, Transformation Consumer Innovation and Enterprise Virtual Care.

As COVID-19 began to spread, ChuckName changed to protect patient privacy. , a 62-year-old chef with a heart condition, sheltered-in-place at his partner’s remote Colorado ranch. After developing a fever, cough and upper respiratory symptoms, Chuck scheduled a telehealth visit, which allows patients to virtually consult a doctor by video chat or by phone. 

Like 90% of Americans before the pandemic, Chuck had never tried telehealth services. Now, with health insurers temporarily waiving co-pays and the federal government easing regulations, telemedicine may have reached a tipping point.

“I had a lot of anxiety,” says Chuck. “That stress was alleviated knowing that I could be in the middle of nowhere and feel like I have a doctor right there by my side.”

As the country reopens, telehealth will play an important role providing health care, says Adam Pellegrini, Senior Vice President, Transformation Consumer Innovation and Enterprise Virtual Care, CVS Health.

“We are focused on how we can help the consumer navigate to the right care for the right medium in a way that has the best health outcome.”

Like Chuck, nearly three-fourths of respondents in a 2020 survey would consider using a telehealth service if they had COVID-19 symptoms, and two-thirds say the pandemic increased their willingness to try telehealth in the future.

In the first quarter of 2020, virtual visits though MinuteClinic® locations grew about 600% over the same quarter in 2019. Aetna also experienced a dramatic increase in daily telehealth engagements. 

Going forward, telehealth will be an integrated part of an individual’s overall health care journey, says Pellegrini, citing CVS Health’s unique combination of Aetna’s broad network of health care providers and its nearly 10,000 retail pharmacies in communities across the United States. 

“Because of the holistic approach we have with our assets, we can actually map a patient’s entire care process to make it as seamless and as frictionless as possible,” says Pellegrini.

“Early action keeps people healthy, which benefits patients, doctors, and insurers,” says Justin Steinman, Vice President, Commercial Products, for Aetna. “If we can get you to care quickly because telemedicine is convenient, it’s going to be a win-win-win for everybody.”

Chuck, now 100% recovered, expressed enthusiasm for new ways to use telemedicine. “It’s exciting that even during a stressful time, I’ve had an experience like this open me up to a possible paradigm shift in my connection with the medical community,” he says. “Sometimes real good comes out of tough times.”

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The right care, right now

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When Justin Steinman arrived at his Wellesley, Massachusetts office on March 4, he readied himself for a busy day. Although not yet extreme, confirmed COVID-19 cases reported by the CDC were rapidly emerging and had jumped overnight from 98 to 164 cases in the United States.

The forefront of telemedicine

At 11:00 AM, Justin’s phone rang.

On the line was Dan Finke, Executive Vice President, Commercial Business and Markets, Aetna.

He asked Justin to brainstorm ideas on how Aetna could respond to COVID-19, specifically around increasing access to care and ensuring cost would not stop any member from receiving a COVID-19 test or treatment.

Telemedicine was a no brainer.

“Aetna has long been a believer in telemedicine,” said Justin Steinman, vice president, Commercial Products, Aetna. “We quickly figured out a way to expand telemedicine access. By using telemedicine, we ensure our members get the care they need from home, thus helping to lower their potential exposure to COVID-19, and also reducing the exposure risk providers face.”

The right risks with members in mind

Forty-eight hours later, Aetna announced its plans to waive Commercial member co-pays for all telemedicine services through June 4, 2020. Medicare soon followed suit, waiving telemedicine co-pays for all Medicare Advantage members until further notice. The launch would not have been possible without at least a dozen teams such as Clinical, Service Operations, Network, Legal, Compliance, Actuary, and Digital, who collaborated seamlessly.

“Other insurance companies were announcing plans to waive member out-of-pocket costs for telemedicine visits related to COVID-19, but we decided to take it a step further,” Justin said. “We realized that waiving member out-of-pocket costs for all telemedicine visits — not just COVID-19 — was the right thing to do.”

Many Aetna providers are virtual enabled. Aetna members can identify if their doctor is seeing patients virtually by checking DocFind, which is Aetna’s online provider directory. Under current government regulations, doctors can even see patients using Skype or FaceTime. Aetna members can also do a virtual doctor visit through Teladoc®, an industry leader in telemedicine.

“Since we announced the telemedicine co-pay waiver, our Teladoc member visit volume has grown,” Justin said. “The large majority of those visits are for reasons other than COVID-19-related symptoms. Member feedback is that they appreciate the speed and convenience of telemedicine, particularly at a time when we’re all being encouraged to stay home.”

MinuteClinic Video Visits are an affordable cash pay option for people who do not have health insurance, with visits costing $59. Video Visits are also covered by most Aetna insurance plans.

“The best way to keep people healthy is through relationships,” Justin said. “Keeping people healthy requires collaboration between the member, their medical providers, and Aetna. “And right now, telemedicine is a huge component of building and maintaining that relationship.”

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MinuteClinic Goes Mobile with Video Visits

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MinuteClinic patient engaging with provider during Video Visit
MinuteClinic patient engaging with provider during Video Visit
MinuteClinic patient in Video Visit waiting room
MinuteClinic patient in Video Visit waiting room
MinuteClinic provider speaking with patient Video Visit
MinuteClinic provider speaking with patient Video Visit

Patients suffering from a minor illness, minor injury, or skin condition no longer have to leave home to be seen by a health care provider. CVS Health has introduced MinuteClinic Video Visits, a telehealth offering that will provide patients with access to health care services 24 hours a day, seven days a week from their mobile device.

A New Way to Connect

CVS Health is committed to helping people on their path to better health. One way to do that is to give them access to health care when and where they need it.

CVS Health has teamed up with Teladoc, a global leader in virtual care, to utilize technology that will connect providers with patients via video call through the CVS Pharmacy app. The service can be used by patients two years and older who require treatment for a minor illness, minor injury, skin condition or other wellness need.

To initiate a visit, patients will complete a health questionnaire and then be assigned to a provider. The provider will then review the questionnaire, including medical history, and proceed with a video-enabled visit.

During the MinuteClinic Video Visit, the provider will assess the patient’s condition and determine the appropriate course of treatment. Depending on the condition and determined treatment, the provider will be able to submit a prescription to the patient’s preferred pharmacy, or refer the patient for an in-person visit to either a nearby MinuteClinic location or another health care provider in the area.

The service is currently available in select states and is expected to be available in most states by the end of 2018.

Quality, Convenient Health Care

With more than 1,100 locations in 33 states and the District of Columbia, CVS Health’s retail medical clinic MinuteClinic makes access to high-quality medical treatment easier for patients nationwide. Since launching in 2000, MinuteClinic has had more than 37 million patient visits. Half of those visits took place in the evenings and on weekends. With the addition of Video Visits to MinuteClinic’s suite of services, patients will have even more options for health care at times when they need it most and locations that work for them and for their families.

MinuteClinic patient engaging with provider during Video Visit
MinuteClinic patient engaging with provider during Video Visit
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Ensuring High-Quality Care is Affordable and Accessible

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In communities nationwide, expanding access to quality care is considered a key health care priority. Yet when asked, Americans generally believe that quality care cannot be accessed at an affordable price or conveniently.

A recent survey conducted by Morning Consult and sponsored by CVS Health shows that Americans believe high-quality care is associated with additional costs. Specifically, 75 percent of Americans believe that high-quality health services are more expensive, while 73 percent agree that access to accredited health care facilities comes with a higher cost. Furthermore, Americans prioritize the quality of care over convenience. For example, nearly seven in 10 (69 percent) Americans are not willing to sacrifice quality for the convenience of a close location and extended hours.

At CVS Health, we believe that patients shouldn’t be faced with a trade-off when managing their health care. We’re committed to delivering affordable and convenient care while maintaining the highest standards of quality in 10,000 communities nationwide.

Beyond helping patients manage their prescription medications, our highly qualified providers serve as knowledgeable and reliable health resources locally. For example, licensed nurse practitioners and physician assistants at our MinuteClinic locations deliver compassionate, accessible and patient-centered care, bringing a broad range of high-quality health care services closer to home. In fact, MinuteClinic was the first retail clinic to receive a Gold Seal of Approval from the Joint Commission. Additionally, our 30,000 pharmacists help patients manage their care in between doctor visits to ensure they remain adherent to their care plans and improve their health outcomes.

High-Quality Care at a Lower Price

At CVS Health, we work to ensure that quality care is broadly accessible and affordable. Most services at our 1,100 MinuteClinic locations cost approximately $100. A visit to MinuteClinic – as opposed to an urgent care center or hospital emergency department – costs as much as 90 percent less.

Additionally, our real-time benefits program helps prescribers locate clinically appropriate medicines at the lowest cost available through a patient’s benefit plan. When provided with access to member-specific pharmacy benefit and formulary information through this program, prescribers are helping patients save $120 to $130 per filled prescription.

Expanding Quality Care Options

Recognizing it is not always easy to find an appointment with a local, trusted health care provider, our MinuteClinic locations have evening and weekend hours with the ability to schedule an appointment online or chat virtually with providers. 

We also recently expanded our telehealth offerings to help patients conveniently manage minor illnesses and injuries, skin conditions and other wellness needs. Through a real-time, mobile interaction, our MinuteClinic providers assess patients’ conditions and determine the appropriate course of treatment following evidence-based clinical care guidelines. In doing so, we’re increasing access to quality care by making this service available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

For more information about CVS Health’s efforts to improve access to quality care across the nation, visit our Quality & Access information center and the CVS Health Impact Dashboard. To stay informed about the latest updates and innovations from CVS Health, register for content alerts and our bi-weekly health care newsletter.

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Making Care More Convenient and Accessible with Telehealth Offerings

Making Care More Convenient and Accessible with Telehealth Offerings
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Patients seek convenience and ease in how they access health services. In fact, a recent survey conducted by Morning Consult and sponsored by CVS Health revealed that 59 percent of Americans view the ability to receive same-day care as very important. Underscoring how real-time care can help improve individual health outcomes, respondents ranked “extended hours” as one of the top factors that would have the greatest impact on their health.

At CVS Health, we are expanding our telehealth offerings to help patients conveniently manage minor illnesses and injuries, skin conditions and other wellness needs. In doing so, we’re increasing access to affordable health care by making this service available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

MinuteClinic Video Visit: Care on Demand

Technological solutions have the power to simplify health care and expand options for when and where patients can receive care. MinuteClinic, our retail medical clinic, launched a virtual health care offering for patients that will directly connect patients to providers via mobile phone.

Through a real-time, mobile interaction, the provider will assess the patient’s condition and determine the appropriate course of treatment following evidence-based clinical care guidelines. For patients who require a prescription as part of their treatment plan, the provider will submit the prescription to the patient’s preferred pharmacy.

If it is determined the patient should be seen in person for follow-up care or testing, the provider will recommend that the patient visit a health care provider in their community, such as their primary care provider or a nearby MinuteClinic.

The Intersection of Convenience, Quality and Affordability

At CVS Health, we’re constantly looking for ways to simplify health care while simultaneously delivering high-quality care that our patients expect. That’s why MinuteClinic has been testing telehealth as a method of increasing access to care in recent years. During the initial phase of testing, a CVS Health study found that 95 percent of patients who opted to receive a telehealth visit were highly satisfied with the quality of care they received. In the same study, 95 percent of patients were satisfied with the convenience of using the telehealth service and the overall telehealth experience. Those results motivated us to create the virtual care offering available in nine states today and expected to be available nationwide, where allowed, by the end of 2018.

We’re also committed to helping patients find more affordable care and reduce the need for more costly services, such as emergency room visits. The MinuteClinic Video Visit costs $59, and is currently payable by credit card or debit card with insurance coverage added in the coming months.

For more information about CVS Health’s efforts to improve access to quality care across the nation, visit our Quality & Access information center and the CVS Health Impact Dashboard. To stay informed about the latest updates and innovations from CVS Health, register for content alerts and our bi-weekly health care newsletter.

MinuteClinic provider speaking with patient during Video Visit
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