CVS Outlines Plans to Add Primary Care Centers to Its Stores, Expand 'HealthHUB' Locations

CVS Health announced Thursday that it planned to add primary care centers to several hundred locations, as well as opening more "HealthHUBs."

CVS Health CEO Karen Lynch told analysts last month that company leaders said they need to "push into the primary care so that we can influence the overall cost of care."

Its objective is to allow customers ease of access to their care providers, ideally leading to lower costs.

According to the company's website, HealthHUBs are meant to be a place to find care for everything from minor illnesses and injuries to chronic conditions and mental health issues. The company's goal is to open about 1,000 HealthHUBs this year.

At a Thursday webcast of CVS Health's yearly investor meeting, Lynch said the company is "closer to the consumer than anyone else." She added that despite primary care holding "significant influence over health care utilization," only about 10 percent of national health care spending is dedicated to it.

The primary care centers plan to provide patients with care teams including doctors, nurses and pharmacists. Other specialists such as dieticians and social workers will also be at some locations. Services will be available both in-person and via telehealth.

CVS Pharmacy, New York City
CVS Health announced Thursday it would add hundreds of primary care centers to locations across the United States. Above, people walk outside CVS Pharmacy amid the coronavirus pandemic on April 11 in New York City. Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images

CVS Health isn't alone in its ambition. Drugstore rival Walgreens and other health care companies like UnitedHealth Group Inc. also have moved deeper into providing health care. They're all competing to become regular guides for customers through the complicated U.S. care system.

Walgreens, for instance, is attaching hundreds of VillageMD primary care practices to its stores over the next few years.

A big target for this competition: Millions of aging baby boomers who will need more regular care and have coverage through government-funded plans like Medicare Advantage.

CVS Health is introducing this push while it also deals with a staffing shortage in some of its drugstores, which have been seen waves of COVID-19 vaccinations and tests and could soon be handling pill treatments for the virus.

The company has said it hired about 23,000 employees from a push it started in September. About half of that total was pharmacy technicians, who can deliver vaccines.

CVS Health, which runs about 10,000 retail locations, also is planning to close several hundred stores in the next three years, as it adjusts to population shifts and customer needs.

On Thursday, the company also said that it will increase its annual dividend by 10 percent to $2.20 from $2 starting in February. The company also has approved a $10 billion share repurchase program and said it was the first time CVS Health has made either move in about four years.

CVS Health also said it expects adjusted earnings of $8.10 to $8.30 per share next year on $304 billion to $309 billion in total revenue.

Analysts expect, on average, earnings of $8.24 per share on $301.2 billion in sales for 2022, according to FactSet.

Shares of Woonsocket, Rhode Island-based CVS Health Corp. climbed nearly 4 percent to $96.75 while broader indexes slipped Thursday in midday trading.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

CVS Health, Massachusetts
CVS Health is hiking its dividend and offering a better-than-expected 2022 revenue forecast as the health care giant prepares to dive deeper into providing more care. Above, CVS Health products are displayed at a store, Monday, May 3, in North Andover, Massachusetts. Elise Amendola/AP Photo