CVS is diversifying its health services. On Wednesday, the retailer announced a new nationwide offering: virtual health appointments.
MinuteClinic, the company’s retail medical clinic, will now allow patients to use telehealth for minor illnesses (such as coughs or colds), injuries, skin conditions, and “other wellness needs,” reads a press release. The service is a collaboration between CVS and Teladoc, which specializes in virtual care technology.
The service will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, via the CVS mobile app. Patients ages two years and up are eligible to dial in and be matched with a board-certified Teladoc health care provider licensed in their state. Each video session costs $59 and requires a patient to fill out a health questionnaire that includes their medical history.
MinuteClinic Video Visit is currently available in nine states–Arizona, California, Florida, Idaho, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, New Hampshire and Virginia–and in Washington, D.C., with nationwide expansion expected by the end of the year. It is not currently covered by insurance, but CVS says it will be added in the coming months. During initial testing of MinuteClinic, CVS found that 95 percent of telehealth patients were highly satisfied with their quality of care, with most appreciating the convenience of checking in from the comfort of their homes.
It’s a smart move for CVS, which currently boasts 9,800 retail locations, 1,100 walk-in medical clinics, and about 94 million pharmacy-plan members. Telehealth has steadily grown across the medical industry–be it pediatrician visits, mental health checkups, or elder care. While the industry once suffered from a stigma that virtual appointments were “less than” in-person visits, public and professional perception has softened.
Physicians and nurses are steadily adopting telehealth, which has been championed by younger consumers looking for efficient, cost-effective solutions. For patients in remote areas or for people suffering from chronic ailments or issues that prevent them from moving easily–such as arthritis–telehealth can be a crucial option.
According to a recent medical survey by Kantar Media, 2 out of 5 physicians participate in telemedicine or plan to within the next year. For those who don’t, 80% feel that a percentage of their patients could be successfully diagnosed or treated via telemedicine.
“We’re excited to be able to bring this innovative care option to patients,” said Troyen A. Brennan, M.D., executive vice president and CMO of CVS Health, in a statement. “At CVS Health, we’re committed to delivering high-quality care when and where our patients need it and at prices they can afford. Through this new telehealth offering, patients now have an additional option for seeking care that is even more convenient for them.”