CVS Health on Wednesday introduced a new telemedicine service for people with minor illnesses and injuries, which the Rhode Island-based pharmacy giant says will allow patients in nine U.S. states and Washington, D.C., to pay $59 for an online videoconference with a licensed healthcare professional.
CVS (NYSE: CVS), which bestrides the healthcare and retail industries, has recently been ramping up the technology-enabled services it offers. Earlier this year, the company introduced a program in partnership with Boston-based software startup Buoy Health that allows patients to provide information online about their symptoms and health history before getting checked out at one of the 1,100 healthcare clinics CVS’s subsidiary MinuteClinic operates across the U.S.
The new telemedicine service, which CVS calls MinuteClinic Video Visits and says is available to patients two years and older, by contrast does not require showing up at one of the company’s brick-and-mortar locations.
CVS says it’s using technology developed by Teladoc (NYSE: TDOC) to facilitate virtual visits. Teladoc is based in Purchase, NY, and currently provides telehealth services in more than 120 countries. Working with CVS could allow Teladoc to claim a larger share of the telemedicine sector, which is projected to grow to almost $64 billion worldwide by 2022, according to a report by iGATE Research.
In a news release, CVS says MinuteClinic Video Visits are for “patients with minor illnesses and injuries, skin conditions, and other wellness needs.” The process begins with patients using the CVS Pharmacy mobile app to answer questions about symptoms they’re experiencing and why they’re seeking care, as well as information on their medical history.
CVS and Teladoc’s technology then matches the patient with a healthcare provider who is licensed to practice in the state where the patient is located. The clinician reviews the information the patient has provided, then they conduct a video visit together, CVS says in the release.
Caregivers might decide to order medications after a videoconference has concluded, and can submit them to a pharmacy of the patient’s choosing, CVS says. Clinicians might also recommend that patients schedule an in-person appointment with their primary care provider, or see one of the physicians on staff at a MinuteClinic near where they live.
CVS says MinuteClinic Video Visits are currently available to patients living in the nation’s capital, plus nine U.S states: Arizona, California, Florida, Idaho, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, New Hampshire, and Virginia. The company says it plans to introduce the service in more states later this year.
For now, patients must pay the $59 visit fee out of pocket using a credit card or debit card. If things go as planned, some patients will soon be able to have CVS bill their health insurer for some or all of the visit cost, the company says.