In 2013 CVS Health hired Brian Tilzer to head up its digital healthcare strategy. Previously Tilzer was the senior vice president of global e-commerce at office supplies retailer Staples Inc. In 2012 while at Staples, Tilzer opened the E-Commerce Innovation Center in Kendall Square in Cambridge, Mass. The center houses teams focused on designing and deploying e-commerce tools and features for Staples.com.
Q: How mainstream does CVS see digital and mobile healthcare becoming and how big a role does CVS see itself playing in those arenas?
A: At CVS Health, we are committed to changing the way healthcare is delivered. We want to increase access, lower costs and improve quality. We touch more than 100 million people annually: that’s an enormous opportunity to make a difference. For us, the benefits of big data and analytics aren’t just driving people back to our platforms: they’re about uncovering the most effective ways to help all people on their path to better health. We have already started to see increased usage and adoption of our digital healthcare tools. In fact, one out of three CVS Pharmacy customers use at least one or more digital tools. More than half of our digital prescription refills are from mobile, and text enrollment for pharmacy pickup and refill are at 20M.
Q: What is the CVS Health role precisely? As a digital healthcare delivery platform? What is your company’s business model?
A: Our goal is to create a personalized path to better health by creating a “connected” health experience that makes it radically easier for people to save time and money, and stay healthy. To achieve this connected health experience, we have three essential priorities to turbo-charge CVS Health’s integrated pharmacy and health care delivery model: an integrated front-store experience, integrated pharmacy experience and integrated health tools and services.
Our recent investment in Curbside also demonstrates our belief in this business model: consumers want more convenience in their life, and we believe a partnership with Curbside will allow us to bring this convenience to more aspects of their engagement with CVS Health. (Last month CVS invested an undisclosed sum in the Curbside app, which offers a store-pickup app used by retailers including Target Corp. as well as at least 25 stores at the Glendale Galleria mall in the Los Angeles area. Consumers can order products from participating merchants in the Curbside app and pick them up outside the store. CVS implemented the Curbside technology in its own app. The program, called CVS Express, lets shoppers order in the CVS app and pick their items up at the curb of a CVS store. This is the first time a retailer has incorporated Curbside services into its own branded app. The technology was developed and deployed at the CVS Digital Innovation Lab in less than three months.)
Q: Can you tell us more about the recently opened CVS Digital Innovation Lab?
A: Since the CVS Digital Innovation Lab officially opened in May 2015, we have introduced a number of new solutions that support our company’s commitment to medication adherence, including digital prescription and insurance card scan functions, integration with the Apple Watch app and mobile medication reminders. We’ve also announced partnerships with leading start-up incubators MassChallenge and RockHealth to explore new digital health solutions and of course we recently announced our partnership with Curbside to introduce CVS Express. We also recently rolled out a new digital solution called Hold My Place in Line, which allows our customers to get in line ahead of time and view wait times at their local CVS MinuteClinic® from their smartphone or computer.
Q: Can you update and foreshadow what’s new with CVS mobile initiatives such as the latest app?
A: We’re continually focused on increasing the quality of the personalized experience via mobile, making it easier than ever for shoppers to manage prescriptions, view deals and send ExtraCare offers right to their card. (ExtraCare is CVS’ loyalty program.) Shoppers can also see what offers will be expiring and get a more comprehensive look of all of their ExtraCare savings and rewards.
We also realized that more and more shoppers are opening our ExtraCare emails on their mobile devices—60% of our emails, in fact. We now personalize the design of our emails so that they render in the most effective manner based on the device used. This might seem like a simple thing, but it’s all to better the experience of our customers, and nothing is too small if it means our customers are happier.
Q: How many times has the app now been downloaded?
A: CVS mobile app downloads have demonstrated an impressive 150% year-over-year growth rate. And we’re excited—because not only are our apps getting downloaded, but people are using them. 18.8 million people have enrolled in text messaging and in 2015 CVS sent 300 million prescription text messages reminders to customers and generated 13 million mobile visits per month, accounting for 3 million weekly visits on average.
Q: Can you provide an update on how you are tying your customer loyalty initiatives to your digital healthcare initiatives?
A: With ExtraCare, we learn what customers are buying, which offers they take advantage of, whether they stick to one category or shop across several. We learn how and when they use their rewards, and what channels they prefer to use to engage with us so that we can issue the right messages and rewards to our customers at the right time. Vital data to our digital innovation efforts. This is analytics at work to personalize each individual’s shopping experience, ultimately making it easier for them to save time and money at CVS/pharmacy.
We know our efforts are working because the CVS ExtraCare program is the largest retail and savings reward program with 70 million active ExtraCare users, and ExtraCare accounted for 70% of all front store (non-pharmacy) transactions during the past year.
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