Over the years, it has become harder to ignore health care’s increasing shift toward the home setting and larger focus on social determinants of health. And now CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) is sharing a 2020 health care trends report that highlights some of the ways the company is taking this on.
One of the top trends identified by CVS Health is kidney-care innovation.
Roughly 30 million people in the U.S. have chronic kidney disease (CKD). Further compounding matters, CKD is often undiagnosed.
CVS Health launched CVS Kidney Care in 2018 to help address CKD. A specific component of the program is home dialysis. Last year, the company began clinical trials for HemoCare, a device for at-home hemodialysis.
Looking ahead, CVS Health plans to implement a comprehensive home-dialysis program including hemodialysis, as well as peritoneal dialysis.
The rise of smart technology opened the floodgates of medical data and the possibilities for more personalized home care, including at-home dialysis, according to Rebecca Ferrick, a CVS Health spokesperson.
“Traditionally done in a supervised clinical setting, the process of filtering blood outside the body is time consuming and challenging for patients and their care partners,” Ferrick told Home Health Care News in an email. “However, with the proper patient support systems and the right safety features built into a device, more patients should be able to perform at-home hemodialysis.”
CVS Health isn’t alone in its efforts to bring dialysis into the home setting. The past few years have seen at-home dialysis programs from health system Intermountain Healthcare and specialty company Somatus Inc.
Social determinants of health also remain front and center after increasingly gaining wider recognition within the U.S. health care system throughout the past two years.
Broadly, social determinants of health are socioeconomic and environmental factors that impact differences in health status. They include, for example, housing instability, food insecurity and access to transportation.
“Approximately 60% of an individual’s life expectancy is influenced by their everyday activities outside of the doctor’s office including individual behaviors and social and environmental factors,” Ferrick said. “Between social determinants of health like housing or food access, patients’ access to care has come to the forefront as a major medical concern. Now more than ever, it’s critical that people be able to receive high-quality, low-cost healthcare outside of a clinical setting.”
One of the ways CVS Health addresses social determinants of health is through Project
Health, an annual campaign that offers free screenings at certain CVS Pharmacy locations in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. These screenings include blood pressure, body mass index (BMI), glucose and total cholesterol, as well as medication review.
Since launching Project Health over a decade ago, CVS Health has delivered more than $127 million in free health care services to 1.6 million people, according to the trends report.
“More than 87% of patients who attend Project Health screening events report following-up with their primary care physician and were significantly more likely to proactively discuss their blood pressure, BMI and blood sugar levels,” Ferrick said.
Another avenue for addressing social determinants of health is tackling loneliness.
In general, loneliness or social isolation can have a negative impact on overall health. A lack of connection — which is common among seniors — is a risk factor for depression, impaired cognitive performance, progressive dementia, compromised immune systems, cardiovascular disease and hypertension, according to the report.
In 2019, CVS Health Foundation and the Aetna Foundation launched Building Healthier Communities — a community improvement initiative — to address loneliness.
On the senior care side, CVS Health began efforts to provide care tailored to older adults in its MinuteClinic locations. Last year, the company partnered with the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University and The John A. Hartford Foundation.
In addition to kidney-care innovation, bridging the social determinants of health gap and countering loneliness, other health trends identified in the CVS Health report include the digital revolution, drug cost transparency, and monitoring the self-care market.