A $69 billion dollar deal between CVS and Aetna, potentially creating the largest integrated delivery network (IDN) in commercial markets, has generated a lot to talk about in healthcare! While there are varying opinions about the disruption in care delivery this deal could bring, what is most compelling are the retail implications. Specifically, how rapidly the patient experience has become primarily a retail consumer experience. The combination of Aetna and CVS has the potential to provide the US’ largest one-stop, retail healthcare experience across multiple touch points.
What can consumers expect from healthcare organizations as those organizations seek to deliver a more retail-like consumer experience?
Expect a strong focus on a consumer experience that is health driven, but not necessarily clinically driven. For example, the inclusion of information such as patient-sourced data (Fitbit, Apple Watch, and other connected monitoring devices) as part of medical records enables patient engagement programs that allow consumers to tailor their own patient experience. Healthcare organizations seeking to deliver these tailored patient experiences must approach them as one, seamless customer journey, period. The Aetna-CVS acquisition has the potential to create the broadest vertically integrated delivery network outside the US Department of Veterans Affairs, and could create the opportunity for the company to become the leader in the delivery of these individualized customer care journeys.
Not surprisingly, healthcare consumers are seeking out these individualized experiences more and more.
Consumers have been abandoning siloed, bureaucratic interactions in favor of curated, personalized relationships across the channels and dimensions of their relationship with their healthcare organizations. This desire for a more accessible and person-centered approach to care is confirmed in industry analysis. A 2017 report by Kaufman Hall on the "State of Consumerism in Healthcare" concludes that “developing a robust consumer-centric approach is essential” to healthcare’s future.
Increasingly, healthcare organizations are looking to capture a share of the consumer “healthcare dollar” through offering diverse services across the consumer’s health experience.
With their ubiquity in communities across the US, CVS has already established a pattern of making community health responsibility a corporate priority, such as through the company’s decision to stop selling tobacco products. Their approach includes creating a strong brand platform to develop “sticky,” loyal relationships that go beyond flu shots, prescriptions, and tissues to include deep health coaching, primary care clinics, and managed care for serious illnesses. This success of this approach rests on establishing deep, trusted “in it for my health” relationships. To achieve this level of personalized experience, competing healthcare organizations will need to adopt technology and ideas from other industries, which have enabled everything from empathetic chat bots to personalized pricing for goods and services.
Providing managed care at the walk-in clinic is the ultimate in a retail omni-channel experience. The Aetna-CVS deal could provide those with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, the experience of not just picking up their medication, but also the opportunity to speak with a care manager and go over their current blood sugar numbers, purchase foot care products, and have all of their interactions incorporated into their patient records. At every step in their journey, they are exposed to one message, one brand, and one journey.
It all adds up to a sea change in the expectations of consumers and healthcare organizations. The age of consumerism in healthcare has arrived.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: In her role as Vice President and General Manager, and with more than two decades of experience driving technology improvements, Susan Taylor helps healthcare and life sciences organizations plan for and achieve digital transformation to improve health outcomes.