June 4, 2019 / 10:48 AM / 4 months ago

CVS to expand health hubs to 1,500 stores by end of 2021

NEW YORK, June 4 (Reuters) - CVS Health Corp said it will offer expanded health services such as nutrition counseling and blood pressure screenings in 1,500 stores by the end of 2021, following through on plans announced during the pharmacy chain’s 2018 acquisition of health insurer Aetna.

It plans to convert a total of 50 stores this year in Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Tampa, representing about 15% of the stores in each of the markets, the company said ahead of a meeting on Tuesday with Wall Street analysts and investors in New York. The bulk of the expansion will be split between 2020 and 2021.

CVS first launched a handful of these stores with expanded health services it is calling health hubs in Houston earlier this year. The new format includes an employee with the title of “care concierge” who will direct customers to health services such as a nutritionist or nurse practitioner. It also will offer screenings for sleep apnea and opthalmology issues related to diabetes, among other services.

These CVS stores have experienced increases in foot traffic, front-of-store sales and MinuteClinic visits per day, as well as prescriptions dispensed, CVS pharmacy executive Kevin Hourican said in a phone interview. He declined to provide specific figures. MinuteClinics are walk-in health clinics located in CVS pharmacies.

When CVS bought Aetna for $69 billion, it said the companies would work to bring more health services into its stores beyond the MinuteClinic offerings to tackle chronic conditions like obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Separately, CVS this week is in federal court in Washington D.C., where a judge is reviewing the Aetna deal. The U.S. Department of Justice and the companies agreed on an anti-trust settlement that included the sale of Medicare prescription drug plans to WellCare Health Plans Inc, but the court has not yet signed off on it.

In addition to its retail stores with pharmacies, CVS is one of the nation’s largest pharmacy benefit managers.

Reporting by Caroline Humer Editing by Bill Berkrot

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