CVS expands $59 telehealth video visits to Arkansas

by Kim Souza ([email protected]) 1,376 views 

CVS Health, the largest pharmacy health care provider in the United States, announced Wednesday (July 10) that MinuteClinic, the company’s retail medical clinic, has rolled out its virtual visit offering in eight additional states, including Arkansas.

The service makes healthcare professionals available 24 hours a day through the CVS Pharmacy app and online. CVS said the service is now available in 26 states with the recent additions of Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.

“We’re excited to continue to expand the availability of MinuteClinic Video Visits across eight additional states as we continue to build our national practice for this service,” MinuteClinic President Sharon Vitti said in a statement. “The expansion of this MinuteClinic service enables us to provide even more people with access to an innovative, on-demand health care option and demonstrates our commitment to delivering high-quality care when and where our patients need it, at prices they can afford.”

CVS said video visits can be used to provide care for patients ages two years and older who are seeking treatment for a minor illness, minor injury or a skin condition. Each patient will complete a health questionnaire and be matched to a board-certified healthcare provider licensed in their state, who will review the completed questionnaire with the patient’s medical history, and proceed with the video-enabled visit.

The cost to access the video visits is $59, which is payable by credit, debit, flexible spending account (FSA) and health savings account (HSA) cards. CVS said insurance coverage will be added to the service in the coming months. During a MinuteClinic video visit, the healthcare provider will assess the patient’s condition and determine the appropriate course of treatment following evidence-based clinical care guidelines.

A typical visit in Northwest Arkansas with a primary care physician averages roughly $200. The walk-in clinics like MedExpress charge about $250 for a typical visit and that does not include any tests. CVS said the new service offers consumers a much less expensive and more convenient option for minor issues that require some medical attention.

If the video visit patient needs a prescription the provider will submit the script to the patient’s preferred pharmacy. Should the provider determine the patient needs to be seen in person, require a follow-up or testing, they will be referred out to a doctor in their community or nearby MinuteClinic locations inside CVS and Target stores.

A CVS Health study found 95% of patients who opted to receive a telehealth visit during the pilot phase of the program were highly satisfied with the quality of care they received. In the same study, 95% of patients were also satisfied with the convenience of using the telehealth service and the overall telehealth experience. Since MinuteClinic Video Visits launched in August 2018, thousands of video visits have been conducted in 18 states and Washington, D.C., with more than half taking place outside of traditional clinic hours.

CVS is working with telemedicine company Teladoc to provide the service. The two companies have been developing telehealth offerings together since 2015. Consumers can access the service via a smartphone by opening the CVS Pharmacy app, or they visit CVS online and select the video visit tab.

A report from Fair Health indicates telehealth usage is growing. Telehealth use jumped 53% from 2016 to 2017, outpacing all other sites of care, according to Fair Health.

In 2017, most people used telehealth for injuries like bruises and open wounds, acute respiratory infections and digestive problems. Neither injury or digestive system issues were among the top uses in 2016, according to the report.

Pediatric and young adults accounted for a larger share of those who used telehealth, but the age 31-to-60 demographic continued to use it the most.