CVS MinuteClinic app to get new wait times, remote scheduling features

By Jonah Comstock
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The CVS MinuteClinic will roll out new mobile app features in 2016, MinuteClinic President Dr. Andrew Sussman announced this morning at the MassTLC Healthcare Conference. A feature currently being piloted in Washington, D.C. will allow users to see wait times for various MinuteClinic locations and to sign up remotely for an appointment. They'll then receive a notification 30 minutes before a visit.

"When you think about our model, one of the biggest challenges is supply and demand and the variation there might be in any one clinic at any one time," Sussman said. "So being able to filter that and disperse that volume and also bring people to the store when it’s time is a tremendously valuable thing."

Sussman said the program grew out of a feature added this year which allowed people to enter their mobile phone number when they arrived at the MinuteClinic if there was a wait, and receive a text message when it was time for their appointment. Three million people used that service, which signaled to CVS that there was a demand for a convenient mobile way to interact with the MinuteClinic.

"I know this isn’t as sexy as a new service clinically, but these transactional things are making a big difference in healthcare, because mostly what people want to know is ‘Are you going to be able to see them promptly? What’s the service experience like?'" he said. "Especially in relatively commoditized ambulatory care activities, that service is important."

Sussman also talked about MinuteClinic's ongoing partnership with Teladoc, American Well, and Doctor on Demand, three of the top telehealth vendors. Sussman told MobiHealthNews back in August that they were looking at two use cases for telemedicine: the vendors could provide consults for MinuteClinic to expand the range of things they can treat and MinuteClinic could provide a physical site to telehealth vendors who might need to arrange a one-time face-to-face visit.

At MassTLC, he added a third possible use case for those partnerships -- they might make video visits available directly over their exisiting channels. Notably, competitor Walgreens offers video visits via MDLive directly in their customer app in many states.

"The rise of chronic disease, the aging population, the lack of primary care, are going to drive patients toward solutions that weren’t always as well-defined as they are today," Sussman said. "And I think each of us has to decide what role we’re going to play and how can we be an essential part of that healthcare system."