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CVS Boosts Care Coordination with Telehealth Technology

By Vera Gruessner

- Healthcare providers from a variety of different specialties are incorporating telehealth technology as a way to boost patient care and lower medical costs across the country. Along with hospitals, clinics, and rehabilitation centers, pharmacies are also taking part in adopting telehealth technology in efforts to improve care coordination and overall patient care.

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CVS Health announced this week in a press release that it will be implementing telehealth technology from American Well, Doctor On Demand and Teladoc in order to enhance collaboration between retail pharmacy providers.

“During our initial phase of exploration of telehealth in our store-based clinics, we learned that we could deliver excellent quality care and that patients were extremely satisfied with the care provided,” stated Andrew Sussman, M.D., executive vice president/associate chief medical officer, CVS Health and president, MinuteClinic. 

“As we examine additional ways to utilize telehealth to improve and expand patient care, we have the opportunity to partner with telehealth organizations in the care of patients at home,” continued Sussman. “In doing so, CVS Health will add value for patients, clients and health plans by improving access to low-cost quality care.”

The latest data shows that 95 percent of patients that received care via telehealth technology were highly satisfied with the quality of their medical services, the ease of use of the telemedicine platform, and the speediness of their care.

CVS Health is also looking into having their providers work with physicians who use telehealth technology in order to further expand their program and improve care coordination. Additionally, the organization’s retail pharmacies may potentially be a future setting for in-person physical exams as a method for assisting in telemedicine visits.

“With the increased demand for patient care anticipated in future years as a result of the expansion of coverage through the Affordable Care Act, the primary care physician shortage, aging of the population and epidemic of chronic disease, telehealth gives us the opportunity to offer high quality care to an expanded group of patients in a variety of convenient and cost-effective locations,” Sussman said in a public statement.

Telehealth technology has had a major impact in healthcare and will likely continue to revolutionize care. Even former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has touted the benefits of telemedicine services for improving care in rural communities. Clinton spoke about how to best improve life in rural locations at the Des Moines Area Community College's Ankeny Campus this week in Iowa.

“Today, our health care system has changed dramatically, but it’s still too difficult for families in rural America to find quality, affordable health care.  And I know many families here in Iowa are worried about even more rural hospitals closing. Telemedicine can help - and we should streamline licensing and explore how to make that reimbursable under Medicare,” stated Clinton.

“Here in Iowa, you just won an important victory, stopping efforts to prevent Planned Parenthood from providing telemedicine services to women who might not be able to make it to a larger city.  Thousands of women in Iowa have used these services in recent years. This shouldn’t have to be said, but how can anyone be advocating for denying women access to healthcare? That may be good politics in a Republican primary, but it is terrible policy in the real world. It’s wrong and it should stop.”

Essentially, telemedicine services could improve the health and wellness of patients from many different walks of life. Currently, a variety of federal and state policies are expanding the use of telehealth technology as well as reimbursement for doctors and other healthcare providers who offer telemedicine services. From payment parity laws to regulations that ensure reimbursement for remote monitoring, the government is focusing on how new technologies could enhance care.

The medical care space is looking to implement video-conferencing systems and remote monitoring tools to reduce healthcare costs, prevent medical errors, and engage the everyday patient in a way that would lead to better health outcomes.

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