NEW YORK, Dec. 7, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- A merger of CVS and Aetna will ratchet up competition among healthcare giants to provide better care and a better customer experience through digital technologies, including remote care and patient support tools that can keep patients on their meds as directed. DRG Digital's Manhattan Research surveys of U.S. patients, physicians and payers illuminate the consumer engagement strategy underpinning CVS' move – and the opportunities it creates for potential partners elsewhere in the healthcare ecosystem.

  • One-stop shopping means a better healthcare consumer experience: CVS aims to make its retail pharmacy stores a new "front door" for our fragmented healthcare system – one where its customers can fill prescriptions, talk to a pharmacist about a rash or pop into a video consult with a doctor. 42% of U.S. adults say being able to take care of most of their healthcare needs in one place is "very important" to having a good experience (Manhattan Research, Cybercitizen Health® 2017). Even more important: affordability of services, which 58% rate as very important to the healthcare customer experience.
  • Bricks and mortar meets virtual care: The number of patients reporting use of virtual consults grew at a healthy 20% clip over the past year, with 24% of U.S. adults saying they have used such a service – and more than half of those who haven't interested in doing so (Manhattan Research, Cybercitizen Health® 2017). The number one reason patients use virtual consults? To renew a prescription (DRG Digital, Cybercitizen Health® 2016), which fits perfectly into CVS' business model.
  • Big ambitions for remote monitoring and digital adherence support: CVS has also indicated that it plans to use the emerging ecosystem of digital tools for keeping tabs on patients post-discharge and helping them stay adherent with medical regimens, much as rival UnitedHealth's Optum has done. There will be white space here for drug and device companies as well as technology firms that can provide digital solutions that improve patient outcomes. Users of digital adherence tools are substantially less likely than those using paper calendars and pill boxes to report forgetting to take their meds (Manhattan Research, ePharma Consumer® 2017), and payers will favor products with proven impact on adherence – 65% of P&T committee members would grant favorable formulary status to a prescription drug bundled with a patient support tool that helps patients stay on track (Manhattan Research, Multichannel Payer Marketing® 2017).
  • Costs are top of mind for U.S. consumers: 43% of U.S. online adults say their health expenses have risen compared to 2 years ago, and among those whose costs went up, 30% have changed lifestyle habits in order to stay healthy and avoid increasing costs (Manhattan Research, Cybercitizen Health® 2017). An important component of CVS' play is to offer Aetna enrollees wellness and prevention services through its retail pharmacy stores, while using its mammoth scale to hold down drug costs.

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"The table is set for CVS/Aetna, UnitedHealth/DaVita, and other consolidating players to serve up technology that truly helps healthcare consumers at scale," said Jeff Greene, VP, Digital Strategy & Insights, DRG Digital. "This trend toward 'self-serve' healthcare has been building in recent years. We will be watching to see how these vertically integrated behemoths are able to execute on the digital opportunities in front of them."

Talk to an analyst about these data by contacting Matthew Arnold at

About DRG Digital | Manhattan Research

DRG Digital, a part of DRG, is the life science industry's partner for data-driven customer engagement and commercial innovation. DRG Digital's Manhattan Research studies have been the industry's go-to source for physician, patient and payer multichannel planning for more than 15 years. Brands, marketers and digital teams at 40+ leading life sciences companies rely on our experts, research and analytics to understand their customers and engage them with the right channels, content and messaging.

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About Decision Resources Group

DRG, a subsidiary of Piramal Enterprises Ltd., is the premier source for global healthcare data and market intelligence. A trusted partner for over 20 years, DRG helps companies competing in the global healthcare industry make informed business decisions. Organizations committed to developing and delivering life-changing therapies to patients rely on DRG's in-house team of expert healthcare analysts, data scientists, and consultants for critical guidance. DRG products and services, built on extensive data assets and delivered by experts, empower organizations to succeed in complex healthcare markets.

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