CVS Health’s new digital innovation lab focuses on customer experience
BOSTON — Imagine a world where access to any health information or services you needed was available at any time through your digital device. We are not there yet, but CVS Health is doing its best to create that world with its new Digital Innovation Lab located in Boston.
“We are a pharmacy innovation company at the forefront of changing healthcare for the better across the country,” declared Brian Tilzer, chief digital officer of CVS Health, during the official launch ceremony of the lab on June 18. “We want to change how healthcare is delivered in this country, and digital is at the heart of the transformation.”
Tilzer explained that consumers are now always connected with digital devices they carry with them all the time. This allows CVS to engage them as never before, anywhere and anytime.
“We were bold when we got cigarettes out of our stores, which was a $2 billion business for us,” said Tilzer. “We are being equally bold with digital.”
One major healthcare problem CVS is tacking with digital technology is what Tilzer called an “epidemic” of people across the country not staying on their medication schedules. CVS now sends text reminders to 20 million customers to take their prescription medications. The lab will work to enhance this program by putting prescription reminder capability into the CVS mobile app, as well as by allowing customers to assign a relative or friend to receive digital alerts if they fail to take their medication.
CVS has tripled its investment in digital technology since Tilzer joined CVS in 2013, and he said the company will double that amount moving forward. Using the largest retail deployment to date of beacon technology, CVS delivers personalized alerts for prescriptions, as well as personalized discounts on other items, to members of its ExtraCare loyalty program when they enter the store. The ExtraCare loyalty card can now be embedded in the mobile CVS app, enhancing convenience.
However, CVS is not standing pat with this functionality. During a brief tour of a couple of demo stations, attendees got a glimpse of how CVS develops new solutions, as well as a few solutions that will likely hit the market in the not-too-distant future.
“We run the team like a start-up,” said Tilzer. “We combine Fortune 10 resources with rapid experimentation, using the strategy of test, learn, iterate.”
Employees at the lab, as well as remote employees connecting through telepresence technology from locations in Rhode Island, Illinois and New Jersey, work to better serve the needs of the customer. Products can be developed from the idea stage to chainwide rollout in less than a year, with pilots at select stores before national implementation.
One solution currently in development is providing customers the ability to scan their insurance card with their smartphone and send the photo to their local CVS store for card updates. This saves time and enhances accuracy by securely sending the data straight to CVS pharmacy systems. CVS also intends to eventually expand functionality to also send card data directly to its own pharmacy benefit management system, as well as the systems of third-party insurance providers.
CVS is also working on allowing customers to scan their drivers license barcode when registering for the CVS application for automatic population of personal information fields, as well as extending reminders to take and refill prescriptions to its Apple Watch app. The reminder would appear on the user’s Apple Watch screen without having to open the app, and they would be able to refill all prescriptions with one tap, especially valuable for chronic patients who must take multiple medications.
In the production lab, attendees saw how CVS is working to improve the connected capabilities of third-party medical devices. For example, CVS is currently helping produce a device that would connect to a smartphone to take a video of a patient’s inner ear and then send it to Minute Clinic pharmacists for instant diagnosis and prescription for ear infections.
“We have an enormous ability to make a difference in healthcare in this country,” Tilzer said.
Teva partners with Microchips Biotech to explore implantable drug delivery device
JERUSALEM and LEXINGTON, Mass. — Teva and Microchips Biotech have announced a partnership that would test Microchips implantable drug delivery device with Teva’s portfolio.
The company’s microchip-based implant works as an implanted delivery system that can store hundreds of doses of a drug over the course of months or years. The partnership’s hope is to increase outcomes for patients with chronic drug therapies. The implant can be controlled with a remote and all dosages programmed to be dispensed on a set schedule.
“The microchip-based implant is truly at the intersection of digital technology and medicine and the future of drug delivery for patients who cannot tolerate needles, require regular self-administered injections or where compliance is critical to outcomes,” Teva’s chief scientific officer and president of global research and development Michael Hayden said. “At Teva we are leading innovation in medicine with promising new drugs and solutions for drug adherence to improve patient outcomes and reduce unnecessary healthcare complications.”
As part of the agreement, Teva will pay $35 million upfront to Microchips Biotech as a technology access fee and equity investment to test one disease area, with the option to expand beyond that in the future. Teva will cover the cost of phase II and III trials and handle all regulatory filings. Microchips Biotech will receive funding from Teva to develop products for future indications, and receive royalties on future product sales and receive development and commercial milestone payments.
“We are thrilled to be aligned with an organization that sees the potential of our technology to transform the way medications are delivered to patients, providing the potential to increase compliance and significantly improve outcomes,” Microchips Biotech CEO Cheryl Blanchard said. “This is the first of what we hope to be many partnerships with industry to leverage our technology across a broad array of therapeutic applications and disease states.”