As part of its "Corner Office" column, the New York Times has an interview with CVS Health CEO Karen S. Lynch, an experienced insurance executive who came to the company through its acquisition of Aetna and took over from longtime CEO Larry Merlo last year.
Some excerpts about ther challenges of running a company with "health" in its name during a pandemic:
• "I stepped back and said, 'What is our true purpose of the company?' What I want to do is make sure that people have access to high-quality, affordable health care, and that we as a company can help people navigate the health care system. Because we’re so central in people’s lives, we have the ability to be even more central in people’s lives. That’s the mark I really want to make, is to be part of someone’s everyday life where if they’re healthy, they’re engaging with us to stay healthy. If they have health issues, they’re engaging with us so that we can help manage and navigate that."
• "Our role is offering an alternative site of care, either in our retail locations, or in the home with virtual connections. We’re entering into the primary care space because we believe that primary care has real significant influence over the cost of health care.
"And I’m pretty passionate about the fact that the head is attached to the body, and most people experience behavioral health issues when they are experiencing physical health issues. We only deal with the physical health. We don’t deal with the behavioral health part, and I think there’s more we can do."
• We’ve been working in the communities to educate people. We actually put vans in communities and we’ve used all of our resources. When we started, we put the stores in these underserved communities first, and about 40 percent of our vaccines are in those underserved communities. Obviously there’s more work to be done. It’s education on all of our parts. We’re doing our part. I know the government is doing their part. And I’ve also done it with a little bit of a stick with my own team, by doing a vaccine mandate.
"We’re in health care, and this is a public health issue, and we should be on the forefront of that. I don’t think vaccines are going away. I think this is going to be an endemic thing, and I think we’re going to see these annual shots. That will be part of a role we continue to play in keeping America healthy."
- KC's View:
Shouldn't making a retailer "central to people's lives" be the goal for pretty much every retailer?
That said, I do think that CVS has a lot of work to do, if only because the climate in its stores - at least, the stores that I've been to - seems not entirely in the same universe as the vision described by CVS leadership.
But, you have to start somewhere. If you don't have a sense of where you are going, it is difficult to take the first steps in the right direction.