The Crunch: Customer Value Stores, or CVS as it is commonly known, was founded in 1963 as a health and beauty supply retail chain. Since its founding five decades ago, the company has grown into CVS Health, a nationwide pharmacy innovation company that encompasses retail pharmacy, walk-in clinical services, specialty pharmacies, and prescription management services. According to EVP and Chief Human Resources Manager Lisa Bisaccia, the company’s success is rooted in its adherence to core values of innovation, collaboration, caring, integrity, and accountability. Those values are evidenced by its streamlined, low-cost prescription services for customers, employee benefits and growth opportunities, as well as its commitment to operating with high internal standards. For that dedication, and for addressing pressing community health issues, CVS Health earns our Retailer’s Choice Award for its Commitment to Employee, Customer, and Community Core Values.
When brothers Stanley and Sidney Goldstein and their partner Ralph Hoagland opened the first Consumer Value Store in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1963, their brand signature was a CVS banner inside a shield. The logo has evolved over the years into a simple red heart, and the CVS brand is well-recognized and trusted by consumers.
CVS sold health and beauty products at first, adding in-store pharmacies in 1967. After several years of mergers and acquisitions, CVS emerged as an innovative company that encompasses not only retail but a broader commitment to consumer healthcare.
Today, CVS Health supports a nationwide footprint consisting of 9,700 retail pharmacies, 1,100 walk-in clinics, and pharmacy benefits management services with 90 million members. This growth has enabled the company to deliver a variety of affordable products and services to consumers while maintaining its competitive advantage.
Lisa Bisaccia, CVS Health’s EVP and Chief Human Resources Officer, said that a singular purpose has been key to the company’s endurance. “Our continued success as a company can be inextricably linked to our purpose, which consists of eight simple, yet powerful words: ‘helping people on their path to better health,’” she said. “Our purpose is what guides our work every day to deliver innovative patient care programs that help more Americans take their medicines as prescribed to improve health outcomes and control costs.”
For more than 50 years, CVS Health has pursued this purpose through a consistent commitment to five core company values: Innovation, Collaboration, Caring, Integrity, and Accountability. By demonstrating these qualities in the way it approaches both operations and human relations, CVS Health earns our Retailer’s Choice Award for Commitment to Employee, Customer, and Community Core Values.
50 Years of Reinventing Health Through Innovation and Collaboration
CVS has always been an innovator in its market. In 1978, the chain was the first to open small stores inside shopping malls; in 1999, it was the first to create a fully integrated online pharmacy (CVS.com), and in 2001, it was the first pharmacy retailer to introduce a loyalty card.
In response to the digital transformation, CVS Health positioned itself as a leader in providing mobile-friendly, omnichannel experiences for both its employees and customers.
That began with thinking differently about the workplace itself. “Digital technologies are changing the nature of both work and the workforce,” Lisa said. “We spend a lot of time evolving our HR processes to be more aware of the diversity of the workforce. We foster real-time conversations, coaching, and a culture where change is embraced, and innovation can flourish.”
CVS Health leverages new technologies and learning methods to provide employees with the tools and training they need to serve customers better. One example is the LEARNet online portal, which features 40,000 learning activities to help employees upgrade their skills.
For customers, CVS launched its highly rated mobile app in 2012 and continues to incorporate new features. The CVS Health apps include not only shopping features but also prescription management, a pill identifier, drug interaction tools, and an insurance card scanner. Customers also enjoy the convenience of filling their prescriptions online and picking them up in-store with curbside pickup. And in 2018, CVS Health will debut next- or same-day delivery in select markets.
A major driver of cross-company innovation has been a focus on the core value of collaboration, starting with its employees — who the company refers to as colleagues — and extending to other businesses, government entities, and community organizations.
CVS has joined forces with pharmacies, clinics, and prescription management services to expand its capabilities and offer its customers a wider range of health-related services. In 2005, it partnered with MinuteClinic, then acquired and incorporated the mobile clinic service into its retail locations. CVS expanded into pharmacy specialty service by purchasing a pharmacy chain in 2000 and later merged with Caremark to become the nation’s leading integrated pharmacy benefits service provider.
CVS Health maintains its dedication to helping people live healthier lives through innovation and collaboration with the greater health community. “This is how we continuously drive our commitment to developing products and services that improve the customer experience. We empower patients to manage their health in more affordable and effective ways,” Lisa said.
Caring for Employees and Consumers Through Benefits, Low-Cost Prescriptions, and Community Programs
Caring for customers is at the heart of CVS Health’s purpose, and the company has demonstrated this in recent years by addressing the increasing cost — and complexity — of health care.
“When it comes to tackling health care’s ongoing challenges, there’s no question the country is going to need out-of-the-box thinking,” Lisa said. “That’s required us to pursue new workplace strategies to make sure our 240,000 colleagues understand the changes in our industry. It also requires the technical tools and support systems to deliver innovative solutions.”
That dedication inspired and accelerated the introduction of new products and services that simplify prescription management, health, and wellness while driving down consumer cost.
CVS is committed to investing the same level of care into its employees by providing for their health and well-being both on and off the clock.
“We offer benefits that help our colleagues better manage work-life balance. Our paid time off policy allows employees to work a flexible schedule to accommodate personal needs,” Lisa said. “Additionally, our Strive Wellbeing program offers low- or no-cost benefits to help colleagues to invest in their health.These include free flu-shots, smoking cessation tools, weight-management programs, health screenings, physical fitness activities, and nutrition challenges.”
It also gives employees clear access to advancement opportunities through a variety of leadership programs. In 2016, more than 250 employees participated in the Transition to Advanced Leadership program, a collaboration with Duke Corporate Education. The program includes 26 hours of classroom training and key on-the-job learning experiences, Lisa told us.
At the community level, CVS Health supports with both funding and technical expertise local health, education, and community programs, and takes action through long-term initiatives around public health issues — such as the national opioid abuse epidemic.
“We’re particularly proud of our response to the nation’s opioid epidemic,” Lisa said. “Too many of us have experienced the heartbreaking stories of people in our everyday lives who have been affected by opioid addiction and misuse.”
CVS Health collaborates with law enforcement to dispose of unused drugs and has a program called Pharmacists Teach to educate nearly 300,000 students about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs. Most recently, the company took steps to enhance its opioid utilization management to align with the CDC Guideline that advises a seven day limit on the supply of opioids dispensed for acute prescriptions for new-to-therapy patients.
Holding Itself to High Standards of Integrity and Accountability
It’s especially important for CVS Health to demonstrate consistent integrity and accountability because of the role pharmacies play in ensuring consumer health and safety. CVS Health believes that starts with the example set by company leadership.
“You have to examine yourself, both as a company and as a senior leader within the company. A positive culture, created and curated by a strong leadership group that holds itself accountable, will see its employees holding themselves accountable for the success of the company,” Lisa said.
One way its leadership has held itself accountable to public health is through voluntary product withdrawals. CVS Health’s 2014 commitment to remove tobacco products from all its retail pharmacies reduced cigarette purchases nationwide, research shows.
That accountability translates into clear quality and compliance expectations for colleagues. “We make sure our people know what is expected of them and they understand their role in achieving the company’s goals. When done right, they rise to the challenge of high expectations,” she said. “They know they are the face of CVS Health for the millions of customers, patients, and members we touch each year. And they fulfill our purpose of helping people on the path to better health.”
CVS Health also keeps its pharmacists and their teams accountable — giving them responsibility and support in evaluating controlled substance prescriptions and leveraging databases to identify stores that need additional training. Over the past five years, CVS has dedicated 2.8 million training hours to keeping pharmacy teams in compliance with federal and state controlled substance regulations — especially as they pertain to ordering, receiving, and detecting abuses.
In light of growing drug abuse, CVS Health has taken steps to hold health professionals accountable. “We began a process of identifying practitioners with extreme patterns of prescribing opioids. We ultimately suspended controlled substances dispensing for several hundred of them who couldn’t justify their prescription habits,” Lisa said.
Innovating Services That Continue to Help People Live Healthy Lives
CVS Health’s history is full of examples of pharmacy innovation and treating customers, employees, and the larger community with respect and dignity. Today, the company continues to find ways to use its resources and leadership to steward people on the path to better health.
In 2016, CVS Health launched #BeTheFirst, a $50 million initiative that aims to deliver a tobacco-free generation by 2020, and build on its elimination of tobacco products from its stores.
In 2017, the company expanded initiatives surrounding opioid prescriptions and added Delaware to the list of 46 states where the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone is accessible without a prescription.
CVS Health reflects the core values and the “customer value” its brand was founded on through digital technology innovation, and fostering equality and personal success in the workplace. The company also holds itself accountable to high ethical standards and cares for the well-being of communities.
For its commitment to employee, customer, and community core values, CVS Health earns our Retailer’s Choice Award.