CVS launches a "virtual pharmacy" iPad app

By Jonah Comstock
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CVS/PHARMACY IPAD APPCVS has officially upped the ante in the pharmacy app game. At Mad*Pow's Healthcare Experience Design Conference (HXD2013) in Boston, CVS Caremark Chief Digital Officer Brian Tilzer announced a new CVS iPad app, just as it hit the AppStore.

"The culture of digital experimentation is something we're taking very seriously," Tilzer told attendees at HXD this afternoon. "It's not a normal app, it's not a list of products. What we have is a digital rendering of a store. It's not that we know this is the best way to interact with customers. We want to find out."

The CVS iPad app presents the user with a 3D virtual pharmacy, where each section of the store corresponds to a functionality for the app, many of which were already present on CVS's iPhone app. In the Pharmacy, users can scan barcodes to refill prescriptions and manage their family's prescriptions. In the MinuteClinic, users can search for nearby clinics, check whether their insurance is accepted, and see a list of services offered.

There are also non-health related sections: ExtraCare, which manages coupons and reward programs, and functions for the store itself, online shopping, and photo development.

In his talk at HXD, Tilzer referred to the often conjured, hypothetical vision of the travel industry if it were like the healthcare industry, with many different players not communicating with one another or sharing data, not to mention complicated payment structures that are often opaque to the patient.

"The reason this is so critical is that the world is changing," he said. "If you look at the pressures to manage costs, consumers want to play a bigger role in healthcare and they're going to need to in the future. We see digital as a tool to begin addressing these challenges, but it's going to require us to think differently about digital."

Tilzer said the company was prompted to create the iPad app because their mobile app -- available for iPhone and Android phones -- has been popular, with "an incredibly high" number of downloads. He said the company also tracks data on use, and sees that people who download the app continue to use it.

According to a statement from CVS, the company plans to release the app for other tablet platforms in the future.

"This is a small indication of what's possible. The need is there. Customers are asking for these kinds of tools, and we can provide them," Tilzer said.