(Bloomberg) -- CVS Health Corp. is hiring a senior executive from a startup that specializes in primary-care clinics, a sign that the drugstore chain is serious about providing more medical services directly to consumers as it moves toward acquiring health insurer Aetna Inc.
Marc-David Munk will become CVS’s chief medical officer for its MinuteClinics, and will oversee “expanded health-care services across the CVS Health enterprise,” the pharmacy and drug-benefits manager said in a statement Friday. Munk was previously chief medical officer at Iora Health, a startup that operates about two dozen physician practices.
In a 2015 blog post, Munk wrote about what he called “primary care 2.0” that should be “consumer-focused, well-managed and with a move toward higher-acuity, in-clinic diagnostics and treatment. Delivered by people you know, in a system you know.”
That kind of service could be crucial for the success of CVS’s $68 billion merger with Aetna, which the companies have touted as a way to control medical costs. CVS’s MinuteClinics are typically staffed by nurse practitioners and treat a narrow range of ailments like coughs and colds. Munk’s hiring is a signal that they could play a bigger role caring for seniors in the insurer’s private Medicare Advantage health plans.
Munk joined Iora in 2015. The startup has gained an early reputation for providing high-quality care to seniors, with the goal of keeping them out of the hospital and lowering costs. It already has partnerships Aetna and its competitor Humana Inc. Iora’s model focuses on using teams of doctors, nurses and health coaches to provide care for patients, with a goal of helping them stay healthy.
CVS declined to make Munk available for an interview before he started at the company, and Munk didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
“Munk could be just the person to help CVS figure out how to upgrade their model to provide more comprehensive primary care for Medicare Advantage members,” Lisa Bielamowicz, president of the consulting firm Gist Healthcare. “There is a significant dividend to be found by better care and network management. While the concept is enticing, CVS has a long way to go.”
In the 2015 blog post, Munk predicted the “re-emergence of a renewed and consumer-focused primary care, just in time to respond to a graying America’s need for integrated care,” partly in response to the competitive threat posed by clinics like CVS’s MinuteClinics.
CVS and Aetna have said that as part of their proposed merger, they’ll provide more care to insurance customers in CVS stores, turning some into what they’ve called health hubs. The move is part of a broader industry trend toward insurers taking more control over how and where patients get care.
At CVS, Munk succeeds Tobias Barker, who was moved to the role of Vice President for Clinical Transformation and Medical Oversight for MinuteClinics. Munk, who’s scheduled to start early next month, has a role that extends beyond the in-store clincs. He’ll focus on “increasing access to high-quality and affordable health care” across CVS’s business units as well, according a company spokeswoman.
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