CVS Health is back on track with the rollout its new health hub concept to 1,500 stores across the U.S. within the next two years despite the continuing spread of the coronavirus strain Covid-19.
CVS paused conversions of some stores into HealthHUB formats in late March as state governments shut down and construction was forced to slow down for commercial developments across the U.S.
But CVS chief executive Larry Merlo says the three-year plan remains on target to have 1,500 HealthHubs by the end of next year. CVS opened 50 HealthHub stores in the U.S. last year and was planning on another 600 to 650 to open in 2020 before the pandemic hit earlier this year.
“We resumed in mid-June and now have 205 locations open across 22 states, and we remain on track to open approximately 1,500 hubs by the end of 2021,” Merlo told analysts and investors last week during CVS’ second quarter earnings call of the drugstore chain’s conversions of stores to the HealthHub format.
CVS HealthHubs dedicate more than 20% of the store to health services that include new durable medical equipment, supplies and various new product and service combinations. CVS is adding thousands of new personal care items as well as additional services at its MinuteClinics in the health hub stores.
CVS, which completed its acquisition of the health insurance company Aetna in December of 2018, has said the new HealthHub formats are seeing increased prescription volume and usage of healthcare services compared to a control group of traditional stores.
“Our HealthHUBs continue to perform favorably to the control group and some encouraging metrics include a 15% increase in visits associated with chronic services and at the member visits over indexing relative to our membership,” Merlo said last week. “This is an important validation point of our ability to impact medical costs through our consumer facing assets.”
CVS Health’s effort to add new healthcare services comes as rival retailers in the healthcare space like Walgreens Boots Alliance and Walmart look to fill the emptying space in their brick and mortar stores in the face of changing consumer shopping habits driven by online retail giant Amazon and others.
In CVS Health’s case, the products and services of the HealthHubs are gaining attention from health plans and employers CVS sells health and drug benefits to, executives said last week. “Specifically on HealthHUBs we’ve seen a tremendous amount of interest in the HealthHUBs, not just from national accounts, but also from our health plan customers who want to understand how to better connect with their members in the community,” Dr. Alan Lotvin, executive vice president and president of CVS Caremark, the company’s pharmacy benefit management unit told analysts last week.