CVS Caremark to open Customer Care Center

NEW YORK Here’s a look at how the future of pharmacy is going to work ...

The fact that CVS Caremark is preparing to open its first Pharmacy Customer Care Center is important because it appears as though the two biggest players in pharmacy — the other being Walgreens — are setting their sights on extracting much of the busy work out of the stores in an effort to free up the in-store pharmacy teams to perform more of the medication therapy management, disease management and other more high-touch services that will come to define pharmacy care in the future.

As explained by Larry Merlo, president of CVS/pharmacy, the Woonsocket, R.I.-based pharmacy retailer is opening the new facility and launching the new pharmacy service program to “enhance the service provided to individuals who call our pharmacies, as well as to provide more time for our pharmacy teams to spend serving customers in our stores.”

Sound familiar?

The move is in a similar vein to that of Walgreens’ “POWER” initiative. As previously reported by Drug Store News, POWER is aimed at offloading and centralizing some prescription dispensing duties in Walgreens’ pharmacies. The goal: to ease up pharmacists and workloads, reduce staffing costs and give its pharmacy professionals more time to consult with patients. The workload-balancing project offloads dispensing duties from individual Walgreens pharmacists to centralized processing centers. Company leaders predicted the project will free pharmacists and even pharmacy technicians from some of the mundane dispensing tasks so they can migrate to a broader role in patient oversight, clinical care and integrated health care alongside physicians, PBMs and corporate health plan sponsors.

As of late May, Walgreens’ POWER project had shifted script dispensing functions for more than half the company’s nearly 800 stores in Florida, and some 100 of its 238 stores in Arizona.

It is likely that this is just the tip of the iceberg and that the industry will see more of these types of programs and initiatives as retail pharmacy further digs its heels into the U.S. healthcare system and continues its evolution into a broad-reaching healthcare provider.