NEW YORK, NY - MAY 13: President of CVS Pharmacy Helena Foulkes speaks onstage during the American Lung Association's LUNG FORCE national media kickoff event at Houston Hall on May 13, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for American Lung Association)
Theo Wargo 2014 Getty Images
By Leena Rao
July 14, 2015

Consumers care more about the money in their wallets and purses than they do about their health, said Helena Foulkes, executive vice president of CVS Health and president of CVS/ pharmacy.

“Consumers have a lot more skin in the game then they did a year ago,” Foulkes said Tuesday during a roundtable discussion at Fortune’s annual Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, Colo.

If a person needs to get a colonoscopy today, he or she will spend between $600 and $6,000 out of pocket. Cost matters today, she explained—but there’s not enough information to tell them where best to go for the service.

Kyu Rhee, IBM’s chief’s medical officer, said that empowering patients with transparency—especially for data around the quality of the health care they could receive—is key. “We need to go from a system of record to a system of insight,” he said.

Foulkes, who leads CVS’s retail business, including its more than 7,800 retail stores, 18 distribution centers and e-commerce sites, says that the company is looking to reduce the complications around taking medicine—a chief patient complaint among doctors.

“People don’t take their medicines as prescribed, and we are thinking about how do we help you stay on your medicines,” she said. “We should allow consumers to text us if they want to refill a their prescriptions, or ping them on their phones to remind them to take their medication.”

The challenge is also taking users prescription and health data, and then connecting it with new technologies, such as data from Fitbit—that company’s founder and CEO, James Park, was also on the panel—and then allowing consumers to access these technologies in a safe and secure way.

One thing Foulkes isn’t bullish on is integrating social networking in health care. “I think we are still early in social networking on health care, and the average people we serve in a stores are not connected to social networking from a healthcare perspective.”

For more coverage of this year’s Fortune Brainstorm Tech, click here.


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