CVS Health chief wants to be part of people’s ‘daily life’

I took a step back and said, “What is our real business purpose?” What I want to do is make sure people have access to high quality, affordable healthcare, and that we as a company can help people navigate the healthcare system. Because we are so central to people’s lives, we have the ability to be even more central to people’s lives. That’s the mark I really want to leave is to be part of someone’s daily life where if they’re healthy they engage with us to stay healthy. If they have health issues, they engage with us so we can help them manage and navigate them.

Can you give me examples?

Well, let’s start with a pandemic, shall we? So you come to CVS for your test and we started that, you know, a long time ago when you come to CVS for your shots. We implemented virtual primary care to change the way people think. We’ve added behavioral health specialists to our stores, which is really different. We are going to move on to expanding health care services. I don’t want people to think CVS Health is just a pharmacy. I want them to think this is a healthcare company.

How big is the shoplifting problem for your stores right now?

There are some parts of the country that are worse than others, but that doesn’t have a material impact on our bottom line. It is a matter of safety, however, for our employees. So one of the things we’ve done is we’ve made more investments in security.

How does the labor shortage affect the business? Are you having trouble hiring?

It’s a big challenge for us. We have increased our salaries. We have paid pharmacy premiums over the past year. We had some big hiring days. But it’s a constant balance and a constant battle.

You said you were going to raise your minimum wage to $15 an hour by this summer. Is it correct?

We phased it. So we rolled it out over time, and I don’t know if it’s enough. We are obviously moderating wages in different parts of the country and I will continue to assess that.

What do you think are the most effective ways to reduce health care costs for ordinary Americans? And what is your company’s role in this area?

There are several things. The first is that there is the site of care. Our role is to offer an alternative place of care, either in our points of sale or at home with virtual connections. We enter the primary care space because we believe that primary care has a real significant influence on the cost of health care.

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