Fortune

YOUR DRUGSTORE WILL SEE YOU NOW

With last year’s acquisition of Aetna, CVS Health became the biggest publicly traded health care company in the world. But the costly acquisition hasn’t paid off yet—leaving consumers and investors wondering: Is getting health care from your pharmacy the future?
CARE ON THE CORNER A CVS outside of Houston now includes a HealthHUB.

500 RANK

8

CVS

REVENUES

$194.6 BILLION

PROFITS

–$594 MILLION

EMPLOYEES

295,000

TOTAL RETURN TO SHAREHOLDERS (2008–2018 ANNUAL RATE)

10.4%

OVER THE ENTRANCE of what looks like a regular, aging CVS drugstore outside Houston, a billowing blue banner announces “HealthHUB Come Inside!” Greeting folks at the door is Jesse Gonzalez, the care concierge who, in his words, “navigates” folks to the right aisle or therapist. Sleep apnea problems? Gonzalez dispatches the heavy snorers to the respiratory therapist, who can suggest a home-testing regimen and, if appropriate, recommend a CPAP mask that’s in stock to stop the honking. Fretting over excessive fatigue and weight gain? He’ll guide you to a nurse practitioner who’ll draw blood to test for thyroid disorder and, if that’s the finding, prescribe a hormone therapy you can pick up at the pharmacy counter.

On an April morning, I followed Gonzalez down a curving parquet pathway, through this stucco box that’s been repurposed as health care’s new front door for America’s communities. This store in Spring, a working-class neighborhood north of central Houston, has eliminated aisles that once offered the likes of mops and greeting cards so that a full one-fourth of its footprint is now devoted to wellness. The entire left side features products supporting the new mission, from health food—think turmeric powder shakes—to mobile equipment, such as shower chairs, usually found in warehouse stores.

The HealthHUB section at the far end goes far beyond what you’d find at a typical walk-in clinic. They offer testing and treatment for chronic conditions, and boast four consultation rooms equipped with exam chairs and retinal cameras for diabetes screening. Video screens display prices for popular services: Today’s rates are $100 for diabetic retinopathy imaging and $89 for a cholesterol screening. Employees from the Texas Department of Transportation get full physicals here. At the pharmacy adjacent to the HealthHUB, pharmacist Alex Ybarra counsels patients in a private office as part of the new high-touch approach; the previous day, she spent an hour advising a senior who needed help measuring the effect of his six diabetes medications on his

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