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Lo-res_DYNMAG-SThere are some apps that are really exciting and “sexy,” promising vast leaps in technological innovation, achieving new capabilities mainly to prove that it can be done. And then there are apps that seem a lot less exciting but enable users to get far more done. In modern marketing environments, companies seek a balance between these types of app-related innovations for their apps, as is demonstrated readily by CVS Health and the range of apps it continues to introduce.

The health care giant already established a means for consumers to receive a text message when their prescription was ready. By adding their mobile device number into the system, they would get timely alerts, so they knew when to swing by the store for their medications. The adoption of that app was so extensive—more than 3 million people used the service within a few months of its introduction—that CVS determined other service-oriented apps were a good place to expand.

The latest entry gives consumers a means to check the schedules at their local MinuteClinics, to gauge wait times if they needed to stop in immediately or else make an appointment if they had a little flexibility. The app also sends them a reminder message 30 minutes in advance of their appointment, prompting the patients to make their way over to their local CVS.

The MinuteClinics themselves were a massively innovative introduction when CVS first introduce the quick healthcare service centers. The app allows the company to leverage this radical innovation in additional ways, by improving the service that consumers receive from this health care option. In particular, it enables CVS to balance the demand for its services more effectively with its supply of those services. For example, data gathered from usage of the app could help the company redefine the hours of operation for its MinuteClinics or adjust the staffing levels to reflect heavy and light demand times.

As the president of the MinuteClinic division of CVS noted, “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?’ Especially in relatively commoditized ambulatory care activities, that service is important.”

Along similar lines, CVS plans to extend the functions of its app even further in the near future. One promising service function would help patients link with healthcare providers in video conferences, such that a worried parent might ask a nurse to take a look at a child’s rash to help determine if a visit to the doctor is necessary.

Discussion Question:

What kinds of functions would you like to be able to access from an app associated with your local pharmacy? How well is CVS meeting those preferences?

Source: Jonah Comstock, “CVS MinuteClinic App to Get New Wait Times, Remote Scheduling Features,” Mobile Health News, December 10, 2015

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