CVS Health announced on Thursday the launch of a new division designed for payors to help expand access for their members to genomic testing for advanced cancers.
The new offering, Transform Oncology Care, is designed to provide genomic testing services at the point of prescribing to get patients on the right therapeutic faster and, in some cases, refer patients for enrollment in clinical trials.
“Timing in cancer care is everything and when a patient does not get started on the right treatment it can result in progression and higher costs,” said Alan Lotvin, M.D., EVP and chief transformation officer of CVS Health, in a press release. “We are the first company working to make the latest in precision medicine accessible to more patients and further empower informed treatment decision-making based on a patient’s genetic profile to give them the best chance for successful treatment and improved quality-of-life.”
Transform Oncology Care will be rolled out with health insurance company Aetna for its fully insured and Medicare populations with participating healthcare provider networks in 12 states. The program is also being made available to other health plans. CVS Health and Aetna merged just over a year ago in a deal valued at $69 billion dollars as CVS sought to transform itself from a retail pharmacy chain to a full-fledged healthcare company.
In an interview with Fortune, CVS Health CEO Larry Merlo said that transformation is well underway. For example, the company has been piloting re-tooled retail locations it calls HealthHUBs, an expansion of the company’s long-running MinuteClinics. HealthHUBs provide consumers with services such as diseases management for type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure; more personalized pharmacy support including 12 different immunizations; and expanded health and wellness offers—all with an available “Care Concierge” who can help triage patients and advise on what services that would need.
All of this is also backed by a host of data for those patients who are Aetna members. CVS can use Aetna claims data to proactively suggest health services or testing the patient may need.
For Transform Oncology Care, CVS has tapped the AI-driven precision health technology of Chicago-based Tempus to leverage the company’s broad-panel gene sequencing tests to identify a patient’s genomic variants and the therapeutic options specific to their molecular and clinical profile. Results from these tests will be used in conjunction with the latest National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) treatment and care guidelines to help oncologists select the most appropriate treatment for each patient.
Treatment regimens that meet the NCCN guidelines based on the results of the genetic test, will receive prior authorization approval, which should allow the patient to begin their cancer therapy sooner.
Early diagnosis of cancer is key to effectively managing and treating the disease. Even patients diagnosed with late-stage cancers can benefit from advanced genomic testing, yet in many cases fewer than 50% of eligible patients receive this testing today. This can inhibit the start of the most appropriate treatment and result in cancer progression and higher costs.
“CVS Health is making great strides in advancing patient care, and we are thrilled to contribute the benefits of genomic testing to these efforts,” noted Ryan Fukushima, COO of Tempus, in a prepared statement. “We believe this collaboration has real potential to personalize treatment for patients while also reducing the total cost of care.”