Quality & Access

Innovating Health Care

11.15.19

Milken Institute Facilitates Meaningful Discussion on the Social Determinants of Health

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11.13.19

Research shows that your environment can be more important than your genetic code when it comes to improving your health. In fact, 60 percent of our life expectancy is determined by social and environmental factors.

To address this issue, Tom Moriarty, chief policy and external affairs officer, and general counsel at CVS Health, recently joined a panel discussion at the Milken Institute Future of Health Summit to discuss how players across the health system can implement solutions that address the personal and financial impact of the social determinants of health, including housing, food and transportation. Moriarty was joined by representatives from the American Public Health Association, BUILD Health Challenge, DC Green and Socially Determined who shared best practices and innovations to tackle the social determinants of health locally.

Health experts hold a panel discussion at the Milken Institute.
CVS Health Chief Policy and External Affairs Officer Tom Moriarty (center right) talks about the ways we’re addressing the factors that impact overall health at the Milken Institute Future of Health Summit.

Below are three key takeaways from the panel discussion.

  • A New Center of Care to Support Patient Needs: Most of our health and well-being happens outside of the doctor’s office – where we live, learn and work. The panel emphasized the importance of understanding the needs of each patient and why local innovations can help address the factors that impact overall health. According to Moriarty, this is where CVS Health can make a difference. Currently, 71 percent of patients live within a five mile radius of a CVS Pharmacy and we utilize our community footprint to expand access to high-quality health services.

  • Improving Local Access to Care is Key: Consider, for example, that 40 percent of physician-ordered lab tests aren’t completed – oftentimes as a result of facilities not having extended hours and the patient lacking access to public transportation to the facilities. According to Moriarty, our MinuteClinic offering can help fill this gap in care. Our extended hours and broad community reach increase access to care. Data shows that up to 50 percent of patients who visit a MinuteClinic don’t have a primary care provider. Furthermore, patients visit on nights and weekends – when other sites of care are closed.

  • Public-Private Partnerships Deliver Value: Panelists agreed that housing and food insecurity have the greatest impact on community health and well-being and additional support is needed for vulnerable patients. To meet these needs, the panel highlighted the value and promise of collaboration across the government, nonprofit and private sectors. Moriarty shared the example of how CVS Health is helping to improve access to safe housing in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We recently contributed $4 million to the Inglis Methodist Gardens project to support the development of a four-story, 47-unit apartment building in West Philadelphia – serving a mixed population of long-term care recipients and people at risk for homelessness.

For more information about CVS Health’s efforts to improve care across the nation, visit our News & Insights page and the CVS Health Impact Dashboard. To stay informed about the latest updates and innovations from CVS Health, register for content alerts and our Leaders in Care newsletter.

Health experts hold a panel discussion at the Milken Institute.
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Multi-Dose Packaging Is Making It Easier to Take Medications

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11.12.19

Lee Ann Pace was having trouble keeping up with her multiple prescriptions, sometimes running out of her medications before she got them refilled.

She’s not alone. Taking medications as prescribed is one of the best ways to control chronic diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol, but with dose changes, regimen changes, manufacturer changes and other barriers, keeping up with multiple medications can be a challenge.

That’s why we offer no-cost multi-dose packaging, making it easier for customers and members to take their medications and stay on their path to better health.

“Everything they need for each time of day is there packed together with their name, the information about the medication, the prescriber, lot numbers, expiration dates…all there for the patient,” says Lynn Parker, CVS Pharmacy manager.

Watch the video to learn more.

For more information about CVS Health’s efforts to improve care across the nation, visit our News & Insights page and the CVS Health Impact Dashboard. To stay informed about the latest updates and innovations from CVS Health, register for content alerts and our Leaders in Care newsletter.

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Coram Nurses Help Teen Bike across the Country

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11.07.19
A photo of a teenager at the airport with luggage.
Andrew leaving Boston for his cross-country bike trip.
A photo of a teenager with a nurse, administering an IV infusion.
Coram nurse Melissa Rupert infuses Andrew in Oklahoma City during his trip.

Coram, a CVS specialty business, provides high-quality infusion and tube-feeding care to patients where they live, work and travel. So when 17-year-old Andrew had an opportunity to go on a six-week cycling, cross-country adventure this past summer, his parents knew the Coram nursing team could help.

Andrew has Gaucher disease and receives enzyme replacement home infusions every 2 to 3 weeks. His trip would leave from Massachusetts in June and not return until early August, so he would require infusions along the route. His parents and medical team mapped out the trip and planned for infusions in Oklahoma City and Santa Monica, CA.

Coram nurses worked with Andrew’s primary care team at Boston’s Children’s Hospital to secure connections in the other states who would be willing to help. He needed an in-state physician to write the nursing orders, and a Coram nurse to meet him at a hotel for the infusion. The Coram Oklahoma City and Los Angeles branches ensured Andrew received the specialized care he needed.

Gaucher disease is a rare genetic enzyme deficiency disorder that affects 10,000 to 20,000 Americans, and can largely be controlled with enzyme replacement. Patients experience anemia, low platelet counts, severely enlarged liver and spleen, and bone disease.

Coram’s Vast Nurse Network

“The benefit of working with Coram is that we have more than 38 years of experience providing infusion services to patients,” said Julie Scaramuzzi, Nurse Manager, Infusion. “We meet patients where they are, and Coram has 73 ambulatory infusion suites across the country. Our team helps patients prepare the paperwork to bring liquids through airport security, and secure a nurse and location for the treatment,” she said. Coram has more than 2,000 clinicians who provide care to nearly 200,000 patients annually for a range of complex conditions including immune deficiencies, neurological disorders, digestive diseases and serious infections.

Andrew’s mom, Heidi, connected with Coram to pick up the medication near her home, and with the paperwork in order, boarded planes to Oklahoma and California. She met Andrew and the nurses in the hotels, and Andrew successfully received his treatments on the road. He was able to stay with his biking group for the entire trip.

Julie said “Andrew proves that patients who home-infuse are no longer home-bound. Our team works with many patients who travel for business or even just to see family for the holidays. Our network of nurses is vast and we are able to meet patients where they are, when they need their treatment.”

The Accordant Team Approach for Gaucher Patients

In addition to care from Coram clinicians and nurses, Accordant offers support for members with rare conditions, such as Gaucher disease, through targeted interventions designed to meet each patient’s unique needs.

“The specialized care team is composed of registered nurses, pharmacists, social workers, and a medical director – all backed by a medical advisory board,” Ahmed F. Hassan, Vice President and General Manager, Accordant. “These skilled practitioners set mutually agreed-upon health goals with the patient, discuss symptom management, explain proper use of medications, and even deal with resource issues such as lack of transportation to doctors’ appointments or cost of care.”

The more than 30 physicians on Accordant’s medical advisory board are available to the Accordant team to discuss complex situations and offer insights into care approaches that the nurse may use in supporting the patient. And, all of the team’s care is grounded in the latest evidence-based medicine and clinical guidelines.

For more information about CVS Health’s efforts to improve care across the nation, visit our News & Insights page and the CVS Health Impact Dashboard. To stay informed about the latest updates and innovations from CVS Health, register for content alerts and our Leaders in Care newsletter

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By the Numbers: Improving Diabetes Care

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11.04.19
A man using diabetic testing equipment.

Diabetes is a costly and complex disease that burdens patients and the broader health care system. Today, more than 100 million U.S. adults are now living with diabetes or prediabetes and estimates show that medical costs for people with diabetes are twice as high as for people who don’t have diabetes.https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2017/p0718-diabetes-report.html

In honor of American Diabetes Month, CVS Health recently partnered with Morning Consult to conduct a survey to better understand how people living with diabetes and the providers who deliver diabetes care are grappling with the disease. We also examined what tools and solutions would be most impactful in improving diabetes care.

Among both people living with diabetes and providers, there is a desire to expand access to care locally, better manage and predict out-of-pocket costs and provide additional lifestyle support.

Expanding Access to Diabetes Care

Managing diabetes can be extremely time-consuming and complicated. Oftentimes, patients must visit different sites of care, facilitate multiple annual exams and communicate with various providers across their care team. The survey revealed that both people living with diabetes and providers believe the health care system could do more to expand access to diabetes care and services. For example:

  • A majority (64 percent) of people living with diabetes are not aware of extended hours for diabetes support, while 61 percent of providers do not offer extended hours.

  • The vast majority of people living with diabetes (89 percent) and providers (98 percent) believe that being able to receive testing and exams for diabetes in a single location would be beneficial.

  • Just 18 percent of diabetes patients see their primary care provider once or more a month, while 37 percent report that they see their primary care provider every two to three months and 35 percent report that they see their provider every four to six months.

This is where CVS Health is making a difference. Today, 71 percent of Americans live within five miles of a CVS retail location. And people come to their pharmacy frequently: Whereas a patient with diabetes might only see his or her physician four to five times a year, they will likely see their pharmacist as many as 18–24 times in the same year.

Through these touchpoints to care, we are expanding access to diabetes care locally. For example, our HealthHUB model provides a new, first-of-its-kind community-based store that offer a broader range of health services, new product categories, digital and on-demand health tools and trusted advice. In these locations, people living with diabetes are able to receive the coordinated care and services they need all within our own four walls.

Addressing Diabetes Costs

Cost is top of mind for both people living with diabetes and providers — and there is uncertainty on how to predict the out-of-pocket costs associated with diabetes management. When asked about managing diabetes, nearly half (47 percent) of providers do not feel they have the resources they need to predict out-of-pocket costs for their patients’ diabetes medications. On the other hand, nearly one-third of patients (32 percent) do not feel they have the resources they need to predict their own out-of-pocket costs.

CVS Health is working to expand visibility into drug cost information across multiple points of care. Through our real-time benefits program, we’re providing tools to doctors so they can see what a medicine is going to cost, and recommend lower-cost, clinically appropriate options to the patient. We’ve also pioneered digital tools, including the Rx Savings Finder, which helps our retail pharmacists find patients savings when they do reach the pharmacy counter.

Improving Disease and Lifestyle Management

People living with diabetes and providers would benefit from enhanced lifestyle support to better manage the disease, including nutritional counseling and access to public transportation. For example:

  • People living with diabetes (58 percent) and providers (80 percent) both report they are likely to utilize nutritional counseling services to help manage their diabetes.

  • Access to public transportation is seen as a barrier among both patients and providers. For example, people living with diabetes (27 percent) and providers (29 percent) rank access to public transportation as poor in their community.

CVS Health offers programs to provide people living with diabetes with personalized support when and where they need it — whether it be in the community, in the home or in the palm of their hand.

For example, our Transform Diabetes Care includes personalized pharmacist counseling and the support of a diabetes coach to help ensure members stay adherent to their care plans. Additionally, through our Pharmacy Advisor program, our members can get one-on-one counseling from pharmacists either in-person at a CVS pharmacy location, or through our URAC-accredited call center.

To learn more about our enterprise-wide approach to diabetes management and care, visit our Managing Diabetes with CVS Health page.

To stay informed about the latest updates and innovations from CVS Health, register for content alerts and our Leaders in Care newsletter.

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Accordant: Holistic Support for Patients with Complex Conditions

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10.29.19
A photo of a doctor putting hand on patient’s shoulder.

Managing rare or complex conditions can often be challenging for patients. They can feel overwhelmed by the condition, medication side effects, complex dosage instructions, comorbidities, complicated provider directions, and experience challenges trying to navigate the health care system.

Health plans and employers, can adopt and offer our Accordant program for their plan members. Accordant provides holistic support for patients with rare conditions through targeted interventions designed to meet each patient’s unique needs.

The specialized care team is composed of registered nurses, pharmacists, social workers, and a medical director – all backed by a medical advisory board. These skilled practitioners set mutually agreed-upon health goals with the patient, discuss symptom management, explain proper use of medications, and even deal with resource issues such as lack of transportation to doctors’ appointments or cost of care. In addition, social workers help patients with community resources such as negotiating utility bill payments, identifying support groups, and grants for home modifications.

In a recent Blue Cross Blue Shield blog post, Accordant Medical Director Dr. Andrew Krueger discusses the importance of comprehensive care management services for patients with complex conditions such as multiple sclerosis and the difference this kind of care can make.

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Rewriting Their Stories: Collaborative Treatment for Trafficking Victims

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10.25.19

Utilizing the resources of our combined companies, our commitment to improving health community by community includes everything from free neighborhood health clinics to the difficult, personal issues of treating addiction.

In Arizona, it involves going into communities dealing with the growing epidemic of human trafficking through a public-private effort that involves Mercy Care, a Medicaid managed care organization managed by Aetna, as well as the Phoenix Police Department and other social services programs.

In the video above, learn how a holistic, first-of-its-kind treatment program, the Maricopa County Child Sex Trafficking Collaborative, is working with multiple health care partners to get victims off the street and on a path to better health.

As Skye Steel, CEO of Street Light USA says in the video: “Children who have been trafficked can recover. It does take a lot of time, a lot of people, a lot of energy, a lot of love…but their story can be rewritten.”

For more information about CVS Health’s efforts to improve care across the nation, visit our News & Insights page and the CVS Health Impact Dashboard. To stay informed about the latest updates and innovations from CVS Health, register for content alerts and our Leaders in Care newsletter.

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Free Screenings, Helpful Advice and a Visit from Pro Athletes at Project Health

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10.15.19
A customer receives a free health screening.
This Project Health event in Atlanta was one of nearly 600 targeting underserved communities.
A customer receiving a free health screening.
More than 87 percent of patients who attend Project Health events report following-up with their primary care physician.
A CVS Pharmacy store with Project Health sign.
Nearly 600 Project Health free health screenings were held in CVS store locations across the country.

Jean Peterson dropped by the City Line Avenue CVS Pharmacy in West Philadelphia to pick up pictures she’d dropped off at the photo department. Moments later, she also came away with a better picture of her own health — and the chance to snap a selfie with two local heroes: former Villanova basketball star Donte DiVincenzo and state Rep. Morgan Cephas.

Peterson had happened upon one of the many free screenings that CVS Health is offering across the country. During the next four months, nearly 600 Project Health events will take place in multicultural communities with a large number of uninsured or underinsured Americans. At each event, participants receive on-the-spot assessments of weight, blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol levels – tests that can help detect risk for chronic conditions such diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.

Since its founding in 2006, Project Health’s free health and wellness screenings have delivered more than $127 million in free health care services to nearly 1.7 million Americans.

One of those Americans was Peterson. The 70-year-old retired nurse learned that her blood sugar was a bit high, most likely due to medications she was given after a recent back surgery. “I always take advantage of things like this,” she said. “It doesn’t hurt and it keeps me in touch with what I need to take care of.”

Know Your Numbers

Sometimes, the people who think they need the testing the least are the ones who benefit the most.

Brenda, a screener technician at the Project Health event in the Kendall neighborhood of Miami, said a lot of very fit people come in to be screened, usually because they want to know their BMI. But other tests are just as important. One of her patients was diagnosed with high blood pressure.

“The guy said, ‘I’m very fit, I go to the gym and stuff like that, I train people, too,’” said Brenda, who is applying to medical school. But they tested him three more times – once manually – and the results were the same. “And the doctor was like, ‘Hey, you need to go to your doctor and follow up. Please.’ We were very shocked. He looked extremely healthy, very muscular.”

Speaking Their Language

Many of our Miami stores sit in Hispanic neighborhoods, emphasizing the importance of having bilingual screeners, says Elena Ferrales, a health screening manager for Project Health.

Cristina, a young mother, wheeled her seven-month-old into the Miami store and signed up to have a screening while her baby slept in the stroller. She had diabetes while she was pregnant, and though her levels have gone down, she tries to check them regularly. After her screening, she sat with the doctor and, conversing in both English and Spanish, they discussed her results and he gave her food recommendations.

Later, a similar conversation with an older man was conducted entirely in Spanish.

A Slam Dunk for Health

As much as anyone, professional athletes understand the importance of good health. They also understand that it’s not always easy for people to access the care they need to achieve it.

“If I wake up feeling something is wrong, I know there’s a handful of people ready to check me out,” says Donte DiVincenzo, a two-time NCAA basketball champ with the Villanova Wildcats, now a point guard with the Milwaukee Bucks. “But I shouldn’t get special treatment just because I’m a pro athlete. Everyone should have these resources.”

A handful of athletes were featured speakers at Project Health events. In addition to DiVincenzo, who appeared in Philadelphia, Los Angeles Clippers forward Mfiondu Kabengele spoke in Anaheim and Heat player Bam Adebayo attended the Miami event.

Kabengele says he learned during his first year with the NBA the importance of undergoing regular checkups. Small everyday steps, he says, can add up.

“When you have poor health, everything dumbs down,” he says. “When you're healthy, your motor is good. Preventive care is a reality check to make improvements.”

Being good sports, the athletes joined the customers to be screened. Adebayo – a player for the Heat – noted how easy it was to get screened inside the store.

“You don’t have the anxiety, you don’t have to have an appointment, you don’t need to be there at 8, the anxiety of waiting around, what if something is wrong with me?” he said. “You just walk in, get it, see how it goes.”

Access for All

Morgan Cephas, a track and field star at Central High School in Philadelphia and now a Pennsylvania state representative, knows the importance of health care from the perspective of both an athlete and a policymaker. As vice chair of the House Democrats’ Women’s Health Caucus, she noted that 10 percent of those in her district are uninsured or underinsured.

“Not everyone is the daughter or cousin or friend of a state representative,” she said. “They shouldn’t have to choose between managing their health and keeping a roof over their heads.”

An Immediate Impact

What happens after the screenings is up to the individual. But for one participant, the consultation had an immediate impact.

Zita James, 68, had been on her way to the nearby coffee shop when she noticed signs outside for the free screenings at the Philadelphia location. After her detour to CVS, she chose to make a positive change to her health.

“It stopped me going next door and getting two jelly doughnuts!” she laughed.

For more information about CVS Health’s efforts to improve care across the nation, visit our News & Insights page and the CVS Health Impact Dashboard. To stay informed about the latest updates and innovations from CVS Health, register for content alerts and our Leaders in Care newsletter.

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Improving the Infusion Therapy Experience with Coram

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09.26.19

As health care costs continue to rise, payers, providers and patients are looking for new ways to help improve quality of patient care and their experience while lowering overall costs. One promising area is in home infusion care.

In fact, published research has shown that the home infusion services, like those provided by Coram CVS Specialty Services, can be safe and beneficial for those patients requiring infused therapies and in some cases can be a lower cost alternative to receiving the same services in a hospital or inpatient setting. In addition, the research has also shown that patients overwhelmingly prefer receiving their infusion therapies at home.

Read more about the benefits and value of home infusion care from Tricia Lacavich, Vice President for CVS Specialty Coram Infusion Services, in her recent article in Fierce Healthcare.

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Providing Discounted Care to Special Olympics Athletes at MinuteClinic

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09.26.19

Athletes, perhaps more than anyone else, understand the importance of being on top of their physical health.

To make it easier for some of our country’s most impressive athletes to access lower cost, high-quality care, MinuteClinic is working with Special Olympics to provide sports physicals at a discounted rate.

From now through July 31, 2020, Special Olympics athletes will be able to present a voucher at any MinuteClinic location in CVS Pharmacy or Target and receive a sport physical at the discounted rate of $49, no appointment necessary.Local state organizations may have alternate arrangements.

This promotion provides all Special Olympics athletes with access to this necessary care regardless of their insurance status or whether they have a primary care provider.

Easy-to-Access, Lower-Cost Care

Athletes aren’t the only ones who benefit from the type of proactive care that MinuteClinic offers. With 1,100 locations in 33 states and Washington, D.C., patients have access to a wide range of services at MinuteClinic, including wellness screenings, vaccinations, and chronic condition monitoring.

And when a minor illness or injury does arise, MinuteClinic’s nurse practitioners and physician assistants can often provide care for those conditions as well, including earaches, sprains, skin conditions such as rashes or poison ivy, sore throats and infections of the respiratory system or urinary tract.

At CVS Health, we’re committed to ensuring that patients have access to the quality, affordable care that will keep them in their best health and at the top of their game.

For more information about CVS Health’s efforts to improve care across the nation, visit our News & Insights page and the CVS Health Impact Dashboard. To stay informed about the latest updates and innovations from CVS Health, register for content alerts and our Leaders in Care newsletter.

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