CVS commits to healthy

Your neighborhood pharmacist is becoming a “healthcare concierge,” so says CVS’s CEO Larry Merlo.

He says now that consumers have to make more of their own healthcare choices, the pharmacist’s role is evolving into becoming the “most accessible healthcare professional” to advise and counsel consumers.

His prescription for the giant pharmacy chain is to make it the go-to place for people to get healthy. The way he describes the $126 billion company: “We’re in the healthcare business.” No wonder he recently renamed the business CVS Health, formerly known as CVS Caremark.

CVS is also the fastest growing provider of walk-in clinics, operating more than 900 “Minute Clinics” in 31 states. Staffed by nurse practitioners and open seven days a week, the company treats colds, infections, minor sprains and administers some vaccinations. CVS is opening three new ones every week and expects to have 1,500 by 2017. As Merlo told me, there’s a demand for these low-cost clinics because of all the changes in the American healthcare system.

He also talked with me about consumer attitudes about spending, the health of the U.S. economy and what keeps him up at night.

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