By Creagh Milford, DO, MPH, FACOI, senior vice president of retail health, CVS Health.
The massive shift to virtual health and explosion of innovation in the digital space has provided patients with an expanding array of options for care over the past few years. As people search for a new kind of health care experience that’s simpler, more affordable and efficient, providers increasingly feel the onus of coordination and communication falls on their shoulders. According to CVS Health’s 2022 Health Care Insights Study, however, both providers and patients agree that a care team approach and the seamless sharing of data and coordination across providers and sites of care will be a critical element of success as new care models evolve.
The future of care delivery demands a new collaborative care team approach as in-person, virtual and at-home care all become standard options. Patients recognize that care coordination is vital to better experiences and outcomes, with 83% of consumers indicating that coordination among all health care providers is very or somewhat important to their health.
Physicians also see the value of a team-based approach, with 68% of health care practitioners saying that coordinating with their patients’ other care providers had a high to moderate impact on their ability to achieve desired outcomes for patients. In addition, 64% said offering patients access to other health care professionals to help coordinate care had a high to moderate impact.
A new health care solution we’ve created, CVS Health Virtual Primary Care, gives eligible patients access to a continuous relationship with a physician-led virtual care team. The solution provides virtual access to primary care, mental health services and on-demand care, with the option of being seen in-person when needed at an in-network provider. This flexible, innovative product makes it easier than ever for people to access care and get their health information all in one place so they can stay healthy even when balancing the demands of work and life.
Building a technology platform that further integrates the health care journey across clinical and pharmacy locations, virtual offices and the home must be a focus as we seek to achieve truly integrated care. With a growing awareness of holistic, whole-person health, it’s not surprising that 83% of consumers surveyed want their primary care provider to know about their family medical history, genetics and inherited lifestyle habits.
However, with limited time for provider-patient interactions, patients do not want to spend time during an office visit reiterating the same concerns they expressed during a virtual call the week prior. Saving office time for true engagement is top of mind for consumers, with 85% saying provider access to their digital health history/record is very or somewhat important factor when choosing a primary care provider.
Providing omnichannel solutions can help seamlessly integrate in-person and virtual care and digital tools and touchpoints can make it easier for patients to manage their own health. For example, the CVS Health Dashboard is an online platform that houses COVID-19 testing and vaccination history and other health records such as diagnostic lab results and medications, granting consumers a 360-degree view of their health at any time.
Providers have also noted the importance of patient-focused digital and verbal interventions and touchpoints as an effective way to improve care plan adherence. Of those surveyed, 94% agreed that interventions such as pharmacist mentions, text reminders and phone follow-ups help patients successfully follow their care plans.
Our study found that 84% of providers said pharmacists help patients with complex conditions and/or specialty medication needs adhere to their health plan. At CVS Health, we can attest to the continued positive impact of touchpoints between doctor visits, such as pharmacist and nurse practitioner interactions. Pharmacists at our more than 9,000 pharmacy locations nationwide offer face-to-face counsel on a walk-in basis, helping to drive medication adherence, close gaps in care and recommend more cost-effective drug therapies. They are joined by the MinuteClinic clinicians in more than 1,100 locations in 36 states and Washington, D.C., who provide preventive care, treatment for minor illnesses and injuries, and management of chronic conditions.
Results from the Health Care Insights Study show that the delivery of health care must evolve into a coordinated and integrated experience, with the pandemic proving to be a catalyst for positive change.
Collaboration and teamwork among health care practitioners and patients are key to people achieving their health goals, with a focus on integration as health care practitioners deliver care to people in the ways that are most meaningful to them – in person, virtually or a combination of both. As we continue to expand health care delivery beyond the walls of a physician’s office, we remain deeply committed to finding new and better ways to build optimal health care journeys for everyone.