Pharmacy giant CVS Health on Wednesday touted the strong performance of its first HealthHUBs, the stores it launched earlier this year to help patients better manage their health in between doctor appointments.
The three pilot hubs it opened in Houston in February have so far "outperformed their control group," delivering higher prescription volumes and MinuteClinic visits, as well as higher front-of-store sales, traffic and margins, CVS CEO Larry Merlo told investment analysts during the company's third-quarter earnings call on Wednesday.
A CVS spokesman said the company is waiting until it has a bigger sample size before it provides more specific data.
But the results are good enough that the company plans to roll out 1,500 HealthHUBs in its stores by the end of 2021. Merlo said CVS is on track to have 50 of the hubs up and running by the end of this year and 600 to 650 by the end of 2020.
CVS and insurer Aetna first touted the hub concept as an entry point to the healthcare system and a complement to primary care when they announced plans to merge in December 2017. The companies closed that $70 billion deal in November 2018, though a federal judge only recently signed off on the acquisition.
The HealthHUB locations cater to everyday needs, with a special focus on chronic disease management, offering services like blood draws, sleep apnea assessments and diabetes care. Patients can access one-on-one and group counseling with a dietitian in the store. The stores also feature a care concierge to educate customers about the services and connect them with in-store providers. CVS is converting about 15% of its 1,100 retail clinics to HealthHUBs.
Merlo told analysts Wednesday that he expects the HealthHUBs to have a material impact on earnings in 2021. The hubs are expected to drive greater use of CVS products and services and save medical costs among Aetna members. The company said it has also introduced HealthHUB services to other health plan and employer clients.
CVS reported net income of $1.5 billion in the three months ended Sept. 30, an increase of 10% driven primarily by the Aetna acquisition. Its revenue soared 36.5% to $64.8 billion.