USA – CVS Pharmacy and Microsoft have agreed to collaborate on the development and use of the latter’s digital platform for all health care needs.
The need to accelerate health care into a faster platform is critical these days, especially as people stay at home to avoid COVID-19 infection, focusing on a technological approach to deliver the needs.
As the retail pharmacy giant continues to focus on digitally enabled and consumer-centric health services, CVS said it plans to use Microsoft’s computing capabilities to deliver more customized health recommendations when and where consumers need them.
In addition, the two will look for new ways to use technology and machine learning to automate CVS operations and reduce waste through co-innovation with CVS Health’s deep community presence and health care expertise.
The retail pharmacy giant recently announced plans to open primary care delivery locations in an effort to lower the total cost of care by expanding access to preventative treatment and screenings.
This move is anticipated to result in downstream savings for its payer business Aetna, as well as launch other health-focused store offerings.
In order to keep patients under the CVS umbrella, the company has been experimenting with new plan designs that integrate both virtual and physical care.
Aetna already has some benefit plans that encourage Aetna members to visit its MinuteClinics or HealthHUB locations by charging a low or no copay, and it recently launched a virtual-first primary
Enhanced customized care
According to CVS, the Microsoft partnership, on the other hand, should help CVS create more customized offerings by better combining information from different areas across the company.
The company has built an integrated data platform and suite of machine learning algorithms using Microsoft as a foundation to address individualized patients’ needs “with the right services through the right channels at the right time.”
This includes mobile alerts when it’s time to get a flu shot, pharmacist counseling on potential side effects of a new medication, and issuing personalized health recommendations, such as nudges when it’s time for an annual cancer screening for at-risk patients or telling people with a higher risk of melanoma to buy sunscreen.
CVS also intends to expand retail loyalty and personalization programs by leveraging advanced machine learning models hosted on Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing service.
CVS already makes use of Azure services to automate certain tasks. CVS, for example, has digitized intake — including the 40% of prescriptions that arrive as paper or fax to expedite the process — allowing technicians to fill prescriptions faster and easier than previously.
However, as part of the new strategic partnership, the two will continue to look for ways to use Microsoft’s technology to simplify processes as CVS strives to become more digitized.
Microsoft and CVS Health will also investigate innovative technology solutions that will benefit consumers, employees, and ecosystem partners.
Digitalized platform to simplify employees’ work
To assist CVS Health employees, Microsoft HoloLens, Dynamics 365 Guides, and Remote Assist can simplify complex procedures with intuitive tools.
As part of that digitization, CVS has chosen Microsoft as its preferred cloud provider, granting CVS, which already has a multicloud presence access to over 1,500 Azure business applications.
CVS CIO Roshan Navagamuwa stated that the Microsoft partnership will aid CVS in its efforts to become more digitized and consumer-centric as the US$269 billion company focuses on healthcare to drive future growth.
The collaboration will also benefit frontline workers by providing them with tech tools to help them be more agile, allowing retail employees to more easily consume key information needed to answer common questions and solve customer needs faster, Navagamuwa noted.
CVS announced last month that it plans to close 900 stores — roughly 10% of its footprint — over the next three years in order to adapt to changing consumer purchasing patterns as a result of the pandemic.
The revamp will result in new stores with a stronger emphasis on care delivery, such as primary care locations, as well as an “enhanced” version of its health and wellness-focused HealthHUB locations.