The Business of Healthcare

CVS, Aetna and Your Practice

February 26, 2018

The Wall Street Journal portrays it as causing panic in the streets.

I’m taking about the pending acquisition of Aetna by CVS Healthcare. It’s stoking fear of the combination of a ubiquitous retail delivery platform, CVS, with the health insurance, managed care, and huge patient database of Aetna. More traditional health insurers and large scale pharmacies are afraid that their days are numbered.

But there’s another lesson here for physician practices, and it’s not directly related to either CVS or Aetna. Instead, it’s something that I touched on before on the blog in the post The Pharmacy Will See Your Patients Now, which discussed the fact that pharmacies are beginning to encroach on physician practice.

Healthcare is increasingly becoming less “silo-ized.” The pretty and neat silos of the pharmacy, insurance company, hospital, medical practice, and so on – the walls between types of entities, organizations, silos have been breaking down over time. And, the walls between healthcare entities and other retail business, too, have become permeable.

Over many decades, retail pharmacies morphed into convenience stores and more recently into platforms for employment of, or collaboration with, physicians, PAs, and nurse practitioners. So, too, have physicians morphed into pharmacies, either via direct ownership or direct dispensing. And, of course, physician practices and medical groups have morphed into retail care – the walk in clinic, the urgent care facility, and, in some states, the freestanding E.R.

The opportunity for physicians and other players smaller than the CVSs of the world is to understand that the membranes between types of organizations and types of professions which were completely impermeable are not only now becoming semi-permeable, they’re becoming almost completely permeable.

The question to ask is how can you take advantage of that in your own business structure.

Comment or contact me if you’d like to discuss this post.

Mark F. Weiss

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