CVS Health announced it will expand its use of the Epic electronic health record (EHR) system to begin using it for its CVS Specialty care management programs, which includes the Accordant division.
The EHR "exchanges 1.3 million records daily with tens of thousands of organizations" across the U.S. and it will "support CVS Specialty's evidence-based care management programs and facilitate connectivity with healthcare providers nationwide that currently use Epic," according to the specialty pharmacy chain.
CVS had announced in 2014 that it would implement Epic EHR systems in its MinuteClinics to "further promote continuity of care with patients’ primary care providers" and that project was completed in 2015.
Payers are increasingly relying on specialty pharmacy programs to help manage care for patients with rare and complex health conditions.
CVS' move to expand its use of Epic's systems suggests it will continue to challenge traditional care delivery services on multiple fronts. Through partnerships to administer pharmacy benefits to more than 90 million patients and a network of more than 1,100 walk-in clinics, CVS has built its business around consumer-friendly, tech-based, coordinated care.
CVS operates from a sort of niche position in the healthcare space. Big box stores like Walmart have introduced their own version of retail clinics, as have well-established healthcare providers like Sutter Health. Some startups like One Health have bet their business on the future of retail clinics. CVS on the other hand has an extensive background in the pharmacy space, but not so much in direct provision of medical services.
Epic offers a route to connectivity with providers and patients, as well as data to expand analytics programs that are central to CVS' pharmacy benefit management business. Last month, Epic announced plans to launch two new EHR versions, according to a Becker's Health IT & CIO Review report. Introducing these new models will have an impact on the EHR market, including smaller vendors' ability to increase their presence, though these have been particularly helpful for small or solo practices.