Digital engagement is an integral part of CVS Health’s growth strategy, and for good reason. The digital customer at CVS spends 4.5 times more and engages with the CVS brand six times more than non-digital customers do.
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Charged with driving digital growth and innovation for the company is Brian Tilzer, SVP and chief digital officer for CVS Health. “[We’re] dedicated to making health care convenient, personal and affordable, and digital tools are key to delivering this experience,” Tilzer told Drug Store News
. “Over the past few years, we have been focused on investing in and developing cutting-edge digital services and personalized capabilities to support our corporate strategies.”
“We know that 1-out-of-3 CVS Pharmacy customers use at least one or more digital tools,” Tilzer said, and many of them are tools deployed by CVS Health. “[As many as] 18.8 million people have enrolled in text messaging, and in 2015, CVS sent 300 million prescription text message reminders to customers,” he added. That digitally driven engagement generates 13 million mobile visits per month and accounts for 3 million weekly visits on average.
As part of its digital strategy, CVS Health is focusing on innovation areas including mobile, personalization, connected health and digital therapeutics in an effort to develop future-looking healthcare solutions, ranging from beacon capabilities that deliver customers in-store pharmacy reminders, to applications that turn mobile phones into remote diagnostic tools.
According to Kantar Retail ShopperScape, CVS’s app boasts the highest engagement levels among drug store operators, with 20% having used the app in the prior four weeks. In the past year, more than 12.2 million CVS shoppers have downloaded the app, representing growth of 67%. “Unbeatable pharmacy experience, personalization and loyalty; next-generation convenience and expert digital tools — that’s the new strategy,” said Brian Owens, director retail insights at Kantar Retail. “[Suppliers] have to invest here.”
To help drive that innovation from concept to real-world application, CVS Health’s digital division has engineered partnerships with leading digital health venture fund RockHeath and start-up accelerator MassChallenge. Last year, CVS opened its Digital Innovation Lab in Boston. The goal of the lab is to embody the CVS Health digital team’s mission to run like a start-up, accelerating speed-to-market and impact of digital innovation across the enterprise by using the resources of the lab to rapidly test, improve and implement new programs.
And it’s working. “Over the past year, the Digital Innovation Lab has brought to market a number of new digital tools that make shopping at CVS pharmacies easier and more convenient, [such as] launching CVS Curbside, or letting our customers hold their place in line at MinuteClinic through our app,” Tilzer said.
CVS announced in September it will be offering curbside pickup at more than 4,000 locations, or roughly half of all CVS Pharmacy locations, following a successful pilot launch in San Francisco; Charlotte, N.C.; and Atlanta.
“The response and adoption of CVS Curbside from our customers has been very positive,” Tilzer said. “We actually saw CVS Curbside as an added convenience and way to create more visits to our store. Through our pilot testing, we found that on average, basket purchases were larger through online delivery and curbside pickup versus in store.”
“We see this service as another way for customers to have access to the products they want — anywhere and any way they would like,” added Judy Sansone, SVP front store business and loyalty and chief merchant for CVS Health. “So they shop our store, or on CVS.com
, and they now have another way to shop via mobile or web,” she said. “Whether the kids or pets are in the car, or [they] have a mobility challenge, … we are providing access — anywhere, anytime — to make the shop most convenient.”
CVS Health also recently introduced CVS Pay, the company’s exclusive mobile payment solution that integrates the entire digital CVS experience. Customers can link their ExtraCare card with CVS Pay, meaning a single scan at checkout will process all ExtraCare deals, earn new rewards and handle payment for the transaction.
Creating an exceptional digital shopping experience across the front of the store is one way to capture today’s digital-savvy consumer, but CVS Health also is leveraging its digital solutions to help improve such health metrics as medication adherence.
For example, the CVS Pharmacy mobile app includes a tool called MedRemind that helps customers stay on track with their medication schedules by enabling them to customize medication reminders.
“CVS Health digital tools allow for easier access to programs that help people start and stay on their prescriptions while reducing healthcare costs for clients of CVS Caremark, the pharmacy benefits manager of CVS Health,” Tilzer said. “Research from the CVS Health Research Institute shows that those patients who enrolled online at CVS.com
were more likely to fill their prescriptions and adhere to their medications. Among CVS Caremark members with common chronic conditions, such as hypertension, 10% more members improved their medication adherence to optimal levels after enrolling online at Caremark.com
compared [with] members who did not enroll.”