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09/15/2021

CVS Caremark launches new efforts to tackle health disparities

CVS Caremark is expanding its efforts to address systemic inequities with a long-term, collaborative focus on community-based programs for patients with serious chronic illnesses.
Sandra Levy
Senior Editor
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CVS Caremark is expanding its efforts to decrease health disparities among patients with certain conditions,  including sickle cell, HIV, and cardiovascular disease by collaborating with local partners and utilizing its unique enterprise assets.

The company is increasing its investments in programs that address barriers to care and developing additional initiatives to help disadvantaged populations and alleviate inequities in the U.S. healthcare system.

CVS Caremark said its approach would focus on awareness and educational resources, testing and screening, access to health services and interventions focused on optimizing treatment. 

[Read more: Pharmacy tackles big underlying health obstacles]

The company plans to collaborate with community-based organizations and patient advocacy groups to deliver care where the people are, utilize enterprise assets including healthcare services available in CVS HealthHUB locations and legacy corporate social responsibility programs such as Project Health where appropriate, and measure and share results on an ongoing basis for continuous learning.

“We serve 1 in 3 Americans and have the information and insights that help us understand not just where the disparities in care are occurring but, most importantly, why,” said Dr. Alan Lotvin, president of CVS Caremark and executive vice president, CVS Health. “We know systemic inequities have existed for decades and can’t be solved by one person, community or company. We believe we have the obligation and the ability to partner with others to change the health trajectory for many patients who have been impacted by them for too long.”

CVS Caremark is working with its clients to create health equity strategies for PBM members with certain conditions that disproportionately affect patients of color. The company also will use its broad reach and collaborate with community partners to determine the best ways to influence systemic change for those who’ve struggled with disease for many years and for newly diagnosed members.

[Read more: CVS Health addresses COVID-19 vaccine equity]

Among its goals are doubling the number of patients on hydroxyurea for people living with sickle cell disease, improving adherence among those already on the drug, and significantly increasing trait testing. Sickle cell disease is an incredibly painful disease that primarily affects communities of color and left untreated can lead to life-threatening complications, and low-cost hydroxyurea can help patients better manage their condition by reversing the sickling of blood cells.

CVS Caremark plans to work with national and community organizations to understand the needs of local communities and develop programs to increase awareness and access to testing that can help patients know whether they carry the trait that can lead to sickel cell disease developing.

The company also is adding to existing initiatives to increase awareness about HIV testing and prevention for CVS Caremark members, particularly among communities of color by sharing educational resources with those at risk, and helping patients initiate preventive therapy when appropriate.

[Watch DSN: Dan Knecht outlines CVS Health’s health delivery innovation efforts]

These efforts are incremental to the company’s ongoing participation in the Ready, Set, PrEP initiative by the Department of Health and Human Services aimed at eliminating 90% of new HIV infections by 2030 and helping end the AIDS epidemic. While a multitude of social, economic and demographic factors impact HIV transmission rates throughout the United States, low-income individuals, minorities (especially African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos) and LGBTQ+ populations are among the most vulnerable to HIV.

For cardiovascular disease, CVS Caremark said it wants to increase initiation of medication therapy amongst people facing health disparities and help ensure those already on treatment are on an optimized dosage to reach their target blood pressure and staying adherent to their regimen.

In all disease areas, the company said it will work with local community organizations and advocacy groups to ensure those facing health inequities have access to the resources and care they need.

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