CVS 2021 Trend Report Illustrates How Pharmacy Has Transformed During COVID-19 Era

The emergence of COVID-19 in the past year has caused a shift in many different aspects of the health care model, forcing many different challenges to be addressed throughout.

Each year, the CVS Trend Report analyzes the forces that impact care the most and forecasts where the health care industry is heading. The emergence of COVID-19 in the past year has caused a shift in many different aspects of the health care model, forcing many different challenges to be addressed throughout.

  • Electronic Health Report (EHR)

Although EHRs have been around since the 1960s, the trend report found that EHRs have contributed to exhaustion and burnout among health care providers, such as the increased cost and interoperability issues.

However, starting April 5, 2021, all patients will be able to freely access their own medical records under the 21st Century Cures Act. The act will enable new patient access provisions and better interoperability to help patients get exactly what they need.

“Interoperability has been a big area of our focus. It has to be,” said Sharon Vitti, president of MinuteClinic and senior vice president of CVS Health, in the report. “Retail medical clinics share information with hundreds of providers and medical institutions. We can’t exist in a silo.”

  • Cancer Roadmap

In an interview with Roger Brito, oncologist and divisional head of Enterprise Oncology at CVS Health, Brito discussed the rollout of the Transform Oncology Care program, which aims to use new technology to advance outcomes for oncology patients, physicians, and patients.

“We found that cancer patients are likely to experience what we call ‘triple toxicity,’” Brito said in the report. “Of course, there’s a physical toxicity of treatments, like chemotherapy. But there can also be financial toxicity, because of out-of-pocket costs, and there’s another toxicity from the psychosocial effects of having cancer. We looked for ways to target all three, to treat cancers more effectively while also reducing the total costs of care, keeping in mind that it’s the patient at the heart of this care that we should be thinking about first and foremost.”

  • The Importance of Pharmacists

CVS labeled 2021 as the Year of the Pharmacist and the report predicts that pharmacists will continue to be the most frequent health care touchpoint in the coming year after their major role in the COVID-19 pandemic.

One way CVS Health hopes to see pharmacists help more people is in the social determinants of health aspect, such as food insecurity.

“We’ve found people are not only open and willing to share social needs with their pharmacists, but in many cases, they listen to and act on the advice and recommendations of pharmacists,” said Peter Simmons, vice president of Transformation, Pharmacy Delivery, and Innovation at CVS Health, in the report.

  • Tailoring Care to Older Patients

Meeting the needs of the older population is becoming a priority, as the number of people older than 65 years of age is supposed to double by the year of 2060, according to the report.

CVS Health said it is trying to be proactive in this area, such as through creating the Age-Friendly Health Systems approach, in which practitioners are encouraged to adopt a range of best practices that align with a framework called the 4Ms. The 4Ms involve reviewing patients’ medications, mentation, mobility, and what matters most to them in terms of health goals.

“For us, the Age-Friendly initiative maps out a way to make a difference for patients 65 and older,” said Angela Patterson, DNP, chief nurse practitioner officer of MinuteClinic and vice president of CVS Health in the report. “Our commitment involves supporting the work of the broader primary care health system within a community and helping optimize the best outcomes for these older patients. There was natural synergy with the 4Ms framework.”

  • Diabetes Care

Racial inequalities have affected diabetes care for years, with populations at the highest risk being statistically more likely to live in places without easy access to supermarkets or access to health care providers.

CVS Health’s MinuteClinic facilities are offering a number of critical services that can help manage diabetes on a walk-in basis, such as pharmacist consultations and on-site retinal screening.

“We know that when you bring care to people, they’re much more likely to access it,” said CVS Health Transformation team member and endocrinologist Kenneth Snow in the report. “Telehealth—more widely embraced since the COVID-19 pandemic began—can also help deliver care.”

REFERENCE

CVS Health Trends Report 2021. CVS Health. https://cvshealth.com/sites/default/files/cvs-health-trends-report-2021.pdf. Published March 9, 2021. Accessed March 15, 2021.