CVS on Wednesday completed its nearly $70 billion purchase of health-insurer Aetna.
Woonsocket-based CVS will join its giant pharmacy network and pharmacy-benefit management business with Aetna’s employer insurance, Medicare and Medicaid managed-care businesses.
CVS Chief Executive Larry J. Merlo said in a statement that by combining Aetna’s medical information with CVS’s pharmacy data, the company will be able to develop new ways to help keep consumers healthier and at a lower cost.
“By delivering the combined capabilities of our two leading organizations, we will transform the consumer health experience,’’ Merlo said, “and build healthier communities through a new innovative health care model that is local, easier to use, less expensive and puts consumers at the center of their care.”
CVS has said the combined company will strive to curb health care costs, in part by keeping better connected with its customers to ensure they take their medications and better manage chronic conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma and even anxiety and depression.
But that’s easier said than done, said Dr. Peter Hollman, president of the Rhode Island Medical Society.
“Blue Cross of Rhode Island, United, any doctor in Rhode Island can say we’re going to focus on these conditions and we’re going to better manage them,’’ Hollman said. “What do they plan to do? Where’s the evidence that it’s effective? And how are they going to execute on it?”
CVS has also said it will aim to cut costs by reducing use of emergency rooms and moving certain types of therapies like drug infusions out hospitals. The company said it plans to open expanded “chronic care management services” at its “Minute Clinics.”
The clinics can serve a role in caring for ailments such as a sore throat, where someone would not need to see a primary care doctor, Hollmann, of the medical society, said. But patients with chronic medical conditions, he said, should not go to “Minute Clinics” in place of a primary care doctor.
“MinuteClinics are incapable of providing comprehensive primary care,’’ Hollmann said, “So I would say CVS would be asking you to seek care from a clinic that is not part of your primary care practice, and it will mean that you have to go to more than one place to get complete care.”
CVS has said other costs-cutting include reducing use of emergency rooms and moving certain types of therapies like drug infusions out hospitals.
CVS employs 8,000 people in Rhode Island, including more than 5,300 at its headquarters, and operates 69 local retail stores.