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Conversions complete, CVS brings customer service, pharmacy tools to Target shoppers


In the slightly less than one year since CVS Health acquired all of Target’s 1,669 pharmacies and 79 retail clinics, the company has completed the process of turning them into CVS Pharmacy and MinuteClinic locations, converting as many as 150 stores per week at the peak of the integration process.

(To download Special Report: Double Down on Health, click here.)

As ambitious as those numbers may sound, now comes the even tougher job — making patients in those stores aware of the health services they can now access at their local CVS Pharmacy in Target.

“We’re focused on ramping up awareness of our patient care programs in those pharmacies and clinics,” CVS Health VP retail pharmacy operations Will Abbott told Drug Store News. “We’re continuing to work with Target on building awareness that CVS Pharmacy is now in Target. From in-store signage to targeted marketing, we’re focused on making sure that they know CVS Pharmacy is ready to fill their prescriptions while they shop.”

At first glance, it might seem like a daunting task, simply given the sheer number of patients CVS Health now can access. As a result of the acquisition, CVS entered five states where it previously had no locations — Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon and South Dakota. According to a Kantar Retail analysis, approximately 76% of the U.S. population now lives within five miles of one of CVS Pharmacy’s more than 9,600 locations.

“In Colorado, we went from having no pharmacies to having 39 within just a couple of months,” Abbott said. “We’re excited to be able to offer new patients from more than 1,600 Target stores across the country access to our supportive and personalized health care, and to introduce them to our suite of pharmacy care services and innovative digital pharmacy tools.”

Among these tools is Specialty Connect, which allows patients to bring specialty prescriptions to any CVS Pharmacy, after which they’ll receive insurance guidance and clinical support over the phone from CVS’s team of specialty pharmacy experts. When their prescription is ready, they can either pick it up at their preferred location or receive it by mail. Other CVS Health programs that Target customers will now have access to include Maintenance Choice, which offers the choice of 90-day prescriptions at mail or retail for medications to treat chronic conditions, as well as Pharmacy Advisor, CVS’ clinical program that is designed to alert its pharmacists to adherence issues and gaps in care.

Specialty Connect, Maintenance Choice and Pharmacy Advisor are available alongside the CVS Pharmacy and CVS Specialty mobile apps and websites, and Target shoppers who are new to CVS can enroll in the CVS Extra Care Pharmacy and Health Rewards program, allowing them to earn $5 in ExtraBucks rewards for every 10 prescriptions filled.

According to Brian Owens, Kantar Retail’s director of retail insights, the efforts CVS is making to let Target shoppers know about their offerings is part of what he sees as the company’s larger goal of being known for health care — a goal that not only helped inform the company’s decision to stop selling tobacco products, but one that Owens said positions CVS well for the future.

“CVS is truly looking toward the next five to 10 years because as healthcare costs continue to go up and more and more health is driven to retail, they want to be in a position where the consumer already thinks of CVS first related to health,” Owens said, noting that clinics will play a particularly important role in the coming years. “As the shortage of primary care physicians continues — and we predict a shortage of 90,000 by 2025 — as that becomes more real and the demand for primary care services is more apparent to consumers, I believe MinuteClinc will pick up a lot of the demand.”

CVS Pharmacy within TargetThe increased footprint — coupled with the lower cost of converting the already existing pharmacies versus building entirely new stores from the ground up — Owens said, will be a large driver of CVS Health’s growth in the coming years. This, Owens said, is due in part to the prescription volume the new pharmacies are able to fill, but also to the increased role pharmacies and retail clinics are playing in the American healthcare system.

“I think as these pharmacies ramp up, and CVS is able to get more and more people opted into the CVS Health enterprise network — which is really about driving specialty conversion — and providing Target guests with convenient supplemental health care, CVS will reap increased loyalty from providing these services as they financially profit from dispensing more branded scripts to consumers in their network,” Owens said.

As it works to build awareness for CVS Pharmacy in current Target stores, the company also is looking to the future of CVS Pharmacy in Target. CVS opened new locations in new Target stores in Chicago, Philadelphia and Forest Hills, N.Y., this past July, with several more new locations planned to open this fall, Abbott told DSN.

As new locations open, though, “we’re busy introducing Target guests to our new pharmacy programs and services and ensuring that the customer service they receive is top-notch,” Abbott said.

Along with the additional pharmacies and clinic locations, CVS Health also came away with one other important asset in the Target deal — the 14,000 in-store pharmacy and healthcare professionals that joined CVS Health from Target, Abbott told DSN. “These new colleagues bring their wealth of healthcare knowledge and expertise to our team.”

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