How CVS Health's latest venture aims to 'reshape and redefine' kidney care

CVS Health on Wednesday announced plans to provide care services for consumers with kidney failure.  

Background

According to the Associated Press, the announcement comes as the company—which operates 1,100 in-store clinics—continues to broaden its reach into health care. CVS in December 2017 announced plans to buy health insurer Aetna.

CVS already runs a pharmacy benefit management business and provides certain care services at some stores, including blood draws for patients with diabetes and the monitoring of certain chronic conditions. The company is also developing vision and hearing loss centers, among other initiatives. 

Regarding the company's expansion into care management, CVS leaders have said they don't intend to replace doctors but rather supplement care patients receive from a physician, AP reports.

CVS' kidney care expansion plans

CVS on Wednesday said it plans to provide home dialysis—including both hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis—for patients through its Coram business, which specializes in care delivered at home and infusion therapy. CVS will initiate its move into kidney care with a new program aimed at identifying chronic kidney disease early and then connecting patients with nurses for training and nutritional counseling to help postpone the need for dialysis.

In addition, CVS is working with another company it declined to name to develop a dialysis device. CVS and the unnamed partner plan to launch a clinical trial later this year to demonstrate safety and efficacy of the device with the goal of submitting it to FDA to gain market clearance, CNBC reports. CVS in a statement said the device is designed to ease and simplify the home hemodialysis process, "in order to facilitate longer, more frequent treatments."

CVS did not disclose how much the company is investing in the endeavor.

Comments

CVS officials said the new efforts "position the company as a positive disruptor in the field with the ability to help reshape and redefine the kidney care space."

Specifically, Bruce Culleton—VP and CMO of CVS Specialty, which provides specialty pharmacy services—explained that "while in-center dialysis clinics are currently the most common choice for hemodialysis treatment," research indicates that "longer, more frequent dialysis treatments" are linked to better health outcomes—and such treatment "is best delivered in the convenience of a patient's home." He continued, "CVS Health is uniquely positioned to build a solution that will enable us to identify and intervene earlier with patients to optimize the management of chronic kidney disease, while at the same time making home dialysis therapies a real option for more patients" (AP/CNBC 4/4; Kilgore, MarketWatch, 4/4, CVS press release, 4/4).

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