CVS partners with Boston-based company to explore virtual medicine

26 Aug 2015 4:44 PM | Denny Brennan (Administrator)

Aug 26, 2015, 4:11pm EDT: Jessica Bartlett, Reporter Boston Business Journal

CVS Health is partnering with Boston-based American Well and two other virtual health care companies to explore collaborations into the area of remote medicine.

CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) announced partnerships with Boston-based American Well, California-based Doctor on Demand, and Texas-based Teladoc to explore how the groups can all work together to deliver so-called telehealth — care that is delivered via either phone or video chat.

“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,” said Dr. Andrew Sussman, executive vice president/associate chief medical officer of CVS Health and president of MinuteClinic, in a release. “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.”

Brian Tilzer, senior vice president and chief digital officer for CVS Health, said in a statement that "some of the best ideas are already being developed."

"We’re committed to partnering with other companies to explore and expand on these ideas together,” he said.

While CVS will partner with all three companies, American Well recently filed a lawsuit against Teladoc for patent infringement.

The partnerships follow several related moves on the part of CVS. In June it purchased Target pharmacies, then said it would open a Digital Lab in Boston. In July the company said it would partner with IBM's supercomputer Watson to analyze patient data, showcasing a broader business move to bring health care into increasingly retail and readily accessible environments.

CVS is hoping to make telehealth available through CVS Health’s digital properties, and would explore enabling its 1,000 MinuteClinics to consult with physicians to expand the scope of the retail provider, or to even be a site for in-person exams to facilitate telehealth 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.

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