The U.S. healthcare system is notoriously expensive, inefficient, and frustrating to navigate. A recent acquisition of Aetna by CVS, however, aims to remedy this broken system. The solution is encouragingly straightforward: keep it local.

The localization of healthcare services makes sense. Sick patients want to be as close to treatment as possible. Especially people with chronic and mental diseases, which, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, accounts for 86% of America’s annual healthcare costs—a staggering $2.7 trillion price tag.

Keeping Healthcare Close to Home

It is human nature to seek the familiar. Your local crossing guard personally greets your daughter on the way to school. Your favorite neighborhood restaurant knows you take your New York strip medium rare. Your mail carrier is friends with your dog. Life is better when people know who you are. It’s also more convenient and less expensive. That’s why CVS and Aetna are making local retail clinics the future for healthcare and patients weary of poor services.

Larry Merlo, CEO of CVS, explains, "We're in the community, we're seeing those patients, we're becoming part of their daily lives and routines. We can get them on that care plan, help them achieve their best health and, at the same time, reduce the cost of care that we're incurring today.” By making healthcare more familiar and convenient, patients are also more inclined to seek treatment and not wait until emergencies before thinking about their well-being.

Quality Healthcare Requires Quality Field Services

CVS has more than 1,100 walk-in healthcare clinics. Each of those clinics depends on knowledgeable and skilled field services technicians to ensure everything is operating at peak performance—from electronic medical records (EMR) systems and electro-medical instruments to irradiation equipment and IVD diagnostics devices. This new and disruptive paradigm, however, poses a considerable and unprecedented challenge: how to manage workforces of field service technicians in an industry that requires a wide variety of specific skills sets.

Thankfully IoT is advancing workforce management capabilities as profoundly as it is impacting healthcare. With a vast spectrum of required service parts expertise and compliance regulations, field service operators in healthcare must vet, organize, and deploy their independent contractors in ways that enhance efficiency and productivity. With the retail clinic revolution, demand for these technicians is expected to increase exponentially. More medical facilities means more medical devices, systems, and machines, which equates greater demand for installations, maintenance, replacements, and repairs.

What CVS & Healthcare Can Learn from Walgreens

Walgreens, the second-largest chain store in the U.S., behind CVS, leads the way with regard to modern workforce management. By using WorkMarket’s software platform, Walgreens is able to seamlessly hire, organize, and dispatch freelance field service technicians to its more than 8,000 stores. Walgreens chose WorkMarket as a software solution to optimize its workforce through real-time visibility, robust compliance mechanisms, and easy payment options. Though Walgreens utilizes WorkMarket for IT field services, the business model is inherently applicable to the medical device space. CVS’s retail clinics require technicians with different skills, as well as technology and processes that will lead healthcare into an era where value-based models of reimbursement and lower-cost alternatives are the norm.

Walgreens vets and groups its various contractors into labor clouds, which are curated networks of talent that arrange workers based on criteria important to the workforce manager—location, availability, product knowledge, skills sets, certifications, and other job-specific requirements. This detailed coordination of human capital eliminates costly inefficiencies associated with travel and overtime while increasing first-time resolution metrics and customer service levels.

Charles Hughes, Director of IT Field Services at Walgreens, elaborates, “Using WorkMarket labor clouds, we were able to build a nationwide workforce of highly skilled IT techs in just a few days. The use of contract labor ensures that workers with the right level of skills can be accessed only when they are required.”

Want to learn how medical device service providers are becoming increasingly sophisticated through automation, analytics, and AI? Check out this use case page!