- Programs & Services
September 27, 2017
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, CVS Health
Planning to keep your family safe during a disaster can be difficult and stressful. Whether it is our pharmacy benefit management (PBM) plan members, CVS Specialty patients, customers of our CVS Pharmacy locations, or communities affected by a natural disaster, at CVS Health, we want to help ensure their safety and aid in the rebuilding efforts.
We do this by mobilizing an enterprise-wide effort to help with preparations before hurricanes like Maria, Irma and Harvey hit, and by lending a helping hand after they pass.
Patients with complex, chronic conditions that need specialty medications are especially at risk if they do not have enough medications on hand or access to needed medications. With Hurricane Irma threatening Florida and nearby states along the East Coast of the U.S., we mobilized a large-scale outreach effort to CVS Specialty patients utilizing the latest digital technology and innovations.
Our proprietary messaging platform enabled rapid and urgent communications to patients with a specialty prescription who were in the path of Hurricane Irma, and those in other parts of the country who may be impacted by any potential delays. Text messages sent to tens of thousands of patients, including those who had just refilled a prescription and who were due to refill, reminded them to plan ahead for any potential disruption from the storm. The messages also helped ensure delivery for patients in transition between home and safe shelter locations by asking them to confirm their temporary address during the storm. This helped ensure patients were able to receive their medication and continue therapy with minimal or no delay.
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Those with a prescription due for refill received a message with instructions on how to refill digitally or by phone. This meant patients could take action to ensure they received their medication, or contact us later to reschedule delivery for a time after the storm passed.
Pharmacy’s Future, Here Today
Historically, ensuring that potentially impacted patients were contacted ahead of a coming hurricane would have required thousands of phone calls, with some patients possibly not receiving their medications because they had to evacuate. CVS Specialty pharmacy in Orlando was directly in the path of the storm and was closed due to Hurricane Irma. Such closures would usually mean higher call volumes at other locations and longer wait times. However, innovative digital capabilities unlocked a new experience enabling patient service to continue with minimal to no delays even in the face of the natural disaster.
It also resulted in shorter wait times for those patients choosing to get in touch through a phone call.
While we have been introducing an increased number of flexible technology and digital tools in recent years, the pace of innovation is accelerating. The ability to develop, set up, and send customized messages in a matter of minutes, in the face of a disaster, enabled us to support patients in an emergency in a completely new way, one that patients increasingly prefer. Data shows that more than 64 percent of patients use a digital device to manage their health and we have consistently heard from patients that they want to be able to connect with us digitally. More than 60 percent of CVS Specialty patients have opted-in to receive text or email messages.
CVS Health serves many types of customers including specialty pharmacy patients, PBM members, and pharmacy and MinuteClinic customers. In the face of the recent hurricanes, Maria, Irma and Harvey, even as our Customer Care and Pharmacy Help Desk prepared to assist members, we issued 60,000 overrides to ensure members had medication on hand in case of disruption. We also sent messages and made phone calls to customers in affected areas, and offered a one-time, 10-day emergency supply from CVS Pharmacy retail locations. Mobile and pop-up pharmacies at emergency shelters offered critical health care services like vaccinations and flu shots. The mobile pharmacy at the NRG Convention Center and George R. Brown shelter in Houston filled more than 4,125 prescriptions and administered more than 1,200 vaccinations.
Community Hurricane Efforts
When the communities that we are a part of are impacted by a disaster, we want to help. To date, CVS Health, CVS Health Foundation, and colleagues and customers have donated more than $675,000 in cash and in-kind product donations to various charitable and disaster relief organizations, including the American Red Cross, Direct Relief, and emergency shelters in Texas, Florida and South Carolina, and Puerto Rico. The company has also launched an in-store fund-raising campaign to help with rebuilding efforts in affected areas, and committed to matching all customer donations with critical products and supplies, up to $10 million. In addition, the Foundation is donating $50,000 to Unidos Por Puerto Rico to help with Hurricane Maria relief efforts.
Ongoing innovation and our integrated model means we can communicate with patients through a channel of their choosing, and reach them where they are, to help ensure they are making optimal decisions about their prescription medications leading to better outcomes, including during times of crisis.
Optimizing prescription therapy is key to improving outcomes for chronic conditions that drive a majority of health care spend.
Care for specialty patients is complex. A holistic approach helps ensure that patients have proactive clinical support as well as access to medication, helping to improve outcomes and lower costs.
*Data includes CVS Specialty patients nationally, and may include those in areas not affected by Hurricane Irma.
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