The CVS Health purchase of Aetna for $69 billion is a truly remarkable event, one that further blurs the lines in traditional healthcare. This acquisition is a sign of the times, as giant health conglomerates search for opportunities to capture more market share and grow revenue to sustain the increasing challenges to remain profitable in the current legislative environment. At the same time, consumers continue to expect more personalized access to healthcare and health benefits, convenience, lower prices, and improved healthcare experiences and outcomes.
Implications for CVS Health patients and Aetna members
While the jury is still out if these mega-consolidations will result in cost savings to the consumer, CVS Health patients and Aetna members should expect to eventually “feel the difference” from this acquisition. Some of the more obvious improvements could include improved care coordination, one-stop shopping, and personalized health benefit communications.
Implications for marketers
In 2018, health marketing leaders will be those who can quickly identify and optimize experiences for the most profitable consumers in any given industry or consumer segment. This is the essence of people-based marketing: using audience data to optimize communication across the market, engaging with addressable audiences, personalizing experiences, and improving real-time cycles to maintain strong relationship affinity.
This acquisition opens the potential to leverage a new world of data that will increase the ability to personalize patient and member health care experiences. For CVS Health, the acquisition will enable them to leverage the healthcare management expertise of a mature insurance giant. This will not be an overnight integration.
While it’s true that CVS’s nearly 10,000 pharmacy locations are becoming stronger as “community health centers,” it’s not exactly clear how Aetna’s marketing assets will be utilized, or how consumers will know how and when to consume the CVS Health or Aetna experience differently following the acquisition. Expect robust co-promotion and data-driven insights, but much work must be done to integrate two traditionally different purchase decisions and utilization experiences. Once the data platforms are integrated, members should have a better experience with their health benefits and CVS/Aetna will maximize reimbursement revenue and profitability.
Upon dissection, it’s all about data consolidation, (PII, PHI, retail shopping behavior, etc.,) and digital enablement along the member/patient healthcare continuum. Real insight will occur as the metrics of Rx purchase and distribution, health benefits utilization, diagnosis, adherence, and care outcomes demonstrate the synergies between the two merged platforms.
Looking ahead, traditional health insurers will continue to be challenged as a commodity, struggling to differentiate while they pursue simple, more transparent products and services. Vertical integration, like this combination of CVS Health’s care system with Aetna’s health benefits system, has given other organizations, like Kaiser, a leg up on competition, as it enables greater opportunities for care coordination, experience personalization and concierge-like interaction. We won’t be surprised to see more like it as these health industry segments converge to maintain profitability and remain relevant in the daily life of consumers. In the meantime, other insurance providers should consider how to expand their role in healthcare management with new and personalized services. Leveraging data to develop true audience insights at a more personal level can change the relationship-marketing paradigm, a result we expect to see when these two powerful brands come together in this ground-breaking acquisition of giants.