Customers already visit CVS for vaccinations, prescriptions and to take care of a range of other pharmacy-related errands. If the chain is successful with its latest initiative, customers will be going there for full primary care visits as well.

CVS plans to get primary care doctors on its payroll in its ongoing pursuit of becoming a major healthcare provider, according to The Wall Street Journal. CVS CEO Karen Lynch said in an interview with the Journal that the retailer is working with “speed and urgency” to create physician-staffed practices. CVS will also have primary care physicians in mind as it pursues acquisitions in the coming years.

The planned move by the retailer builds on its nurse practitioner-centered care at its in-store Minute Clinic locations while further amping up its healthcare initiatives that included being the first major pharmacy chain to end the sale of tobacco products.

CVS, which acquired insurance provider Aetna in 2018, has also experimented with new modes for meeting customer healthcare needs, such as telemedicine. It has also been piloting new healthcare services, such as in-store mental health services at locations in three states with plans to expand beyond that.

CVS is not the only retail pharmacy trying to become more like a doctor’s office.

In October, Walgreens Boots Alliance’s new CEO announced that the chain would convert U.S. locations into places where people could visit the doctor, get medical tests done or get advice from other medical professionals, according to CNBC. The stores will operate under the new Walgreens Health banner. Walgreens has also undertaken its own slew of healthcare-related acquisitions, including a primary care company called VillageMD.

Brick-and-mortar pharmacy retail has been racing to differentiate itself since the threat of competition from Amazon.com has grown into a perennial concern.

An anonymously sourced Insider article this spring claimed that the e-tail juggernaut is considering placing pharmacies inside Whole Foods locations or even launching standalone pharmacies. At the time of that speculation, Walgreens, CVS and Rite-Aid all saw their stocks fall between three and four points.


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