Drugstores rush to bundle primary health care

Drugstores are eager to offer primary care as they aim to bundle a widening scope of their consumers’ health care needs.

Why it matters: Bundling individual services under one roof and one brand would deepen stores’ ties with customers and patients — providing them a one-stop shop for doctor’s visits, insurance and pharmaceuticals.

Driving the news: CVS CEO Karen Lynch told analysts on an earnings call this morning that the company is determined to acquire or take a stake in a primary care provider by the end of the year.

  • Amazon just beat out CVS to acquire One Medical, but Lynch and her team say their existing physical footprint is already a huge advantage.
  • “Let me remind you that we are the largest provider of retail health services in the nation,” Lynch said.
  • CFO Shawn Guertin added: “Our vision is something new and differentiated … And thus, there is no one-and-done asset there.”

Context: With insurer Aetna and pharmacy benefits manager Caremark, CVS already has access to a significant swath of the healthcare market.

  • Currently, eligible Aetna and CVS Caremark customers can receive some in-person and virtual primary care and mental health services.

Zoom out: Retail pharmacies are in prime position to take advantage of new consumer interest in health and wellness borne through the pandemic.

  • Walgreens last year increased its investment in VillageMD to open clinics within its stores.
  • Rite Aid has partnered with primary care company Homeward to offer primary care services in hundreds of Rite Aid locations in rural locations.

What to watch: Jeff Gamble, the founder of concierge primary care network Rezilient Health, theorized that CVS might pursue Teladoc, which is already Aetna’s exclusive telehealth provider.

  • CVS shares closed up 6.4%.

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