Case Studies

MedStar Health's Partnership with CVS

MedStar Health is a not-for-profit health system in the Maryland and Washington, D.C., area. MedStar comprises 10 hospitals and numerous other facilities, providing outpatient and ambulatory care, urgent care, primary care, post-acute rehab and home health. The health system has opened two comprehensive ambulatory care centers and has plans to open additional ones. The system provides care to one in five people in the area.

MedStar Health aims to provide convenient access to health care services where patients live and work through a distributed care delivery network. In 2014, MedStar recognized an opportunity to affiliate with CVS Health to expand its reach through CVS MinuteClinic locations in the Washington, D.C., area.

When MedStar initiated conversations with CVS, the system expected to establish traditional retail clinics. However, the two companies instead began exploring other gaps in the continuum of care that could be effectively addressed by a retail health model. Leaders from both CVS and MedStar recognized their shared interest in providing population health and streamlined, comprehensive care coordination. The two organizations integrated their electronic health record systems to allow easy information-sharing and began working together to improve medication compliance. Through the EHR integration, CVS pharmacists can assess medications for possible contraindications and log patients’ refill activity. The CVS retail infrastructure provides services like convenient bedside delivery and a text-messaging refill reminder service. MedStar providers, in turn, can view reports of patients’ medication compliance as part of their health records.

MedStar also provides clinical education in CVS clinic locations, since many patients have an easier time accessing a MinuteClinic location than getting to MedStar’s facilities. Educational programs are coordinated with medical care, and attendance is captured as part of the integrated health record.
The affiliation has proved to be mutually beneficial, with CVS providing the care distribution network and MedStar providing clinical and population health expertise. The two-year-old partnership is still too new for either company to make conclusive statements about its impact, but MedStar is gathering data and expects to report out on key performance indicators soon. Anecdotally, providers are enthusiastic about their ability to view patient activity between visits and use real-time tracking to enhance both provider and patient recall.

MedStar continues to explore strategies to improve care and convenience beyond the affiliation with CVS. Expanded telemedicine services offer one potentially innovative avenue. MedStar also aims to expand its data-mining capabilities in the coming years. The MedStar Institute for Innovation, an in-house think tank, continues to research how technology and innovative thinking can further enhance the system’s health care delivery.

Lessons Learned

  • Health systems should make use of strategic partnerships. Experienced partners and open platforms can provide services more efficiently and effectively than a health system could on its own. Appropriate partners will have complementary values, goals and strategies.
  • Leaders must be flexible and open to evolving solutions and make sure partners are also flexible. Leaders cannot expect to have all the answers on day one.
  • Integration of multiple health records can be a challenge, but it is hugely beneficial for care coordination.

Ann C. Nickels
Assistant Vice President
Public Relations and Communications

Bob Gilbert
President of MedStar Ambulatory Services

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