CVS, Walgreens Take On Clinical Trials to Improve the Patient Experience

CVS, Walgreens Take On Clinical Trials to Improve the Patient Experience. A Black clinician wearing protective eyewear and a respirator looking through a microscope with test tubes and beakers, a DNA spiral, a molecule diagram, and a segmented circle showing test results in the background.

Continuing to leverage their data, technology and relationships with consumers, pharmacy retailers CVS Health and Walgreens are out to disrupt another area of health care — clinical trials.

Both companies recently launched clinical trials businesses with an eye toward reducing research costs and making it easier for historically underrepresented racial and ethnic groups to participate in drug and medical device studies.

Walgreens’ model will combine the company’s huge reservoir of patient data, technology and in-person and virtual care options to recruit patients for drug trials.

The retailer says it plans to continue working with clinical trial participants even after the study period ends. It will provide care coordination services in concert with its partner Pluto Health, which has a multilayered, smart care coordination service that unifies siloed data from medical records, social factors influencing health, insurance claims and more within 30 minutes. The Pluto Health team evaluates patient health information with the recommended clinical care guidelines and social determinants data to identify and close any potential gaps in care.

In May 2021, CVS Health launched its clinical trials services unit. It will work with stakeholders in the biopharmaceutical industry and across the clinical trial ecosystem to design new approaches to research and streamlining recruitment of participants for studies.

The Business Will Focus on Scaling Three Core Areas:

1. Precision Patient Recruitment

Leveraging analytics, its national reach and local community connections, CVS will engage its customers by helping them learn about clinical trial opportunities that may be appropriate for them.

2. Clinical Trial Delivery

The retailer will provide decentralized options for the delivery of Phase III/IV clinical trials at CVS locations, at home or virtually.

3. Real-World Evidence Generation and Studies

Work will focus on retrospective and prospective studies that measure the impact of novel devices and therapeutics in real-world settings.

Given the historical challenges in recruiting and retaining study subjects and that less than 5% of the population has taken part in clinical research, according to the National Institutes of Health, it bears watching what impact these retailers will have on the field going forward.

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