05 December 2021 |

CVS x Microsoft 🤝

By workweek


CVS x Microsoft 🤝

CVS Health and Microsoft announced a strategic partnership with a unique focus: 

“Developing innovative solutions to help consumers improve their health, while empowering over 300,000 CVS Health employees including frontline workers with tools to better serve more than 100 million people.”

The focus of this partnership has a lot of buzzwords (empower, innovative, solutions), so let me break down what this partnership means. 

It’s All About You
CVS has a lot of patient and consumer data: The company knows which doctors you’re seeing (if you have Aetna insurance), what medications you’re on (if you use CVS pharmacy) and what type of shampoo you use (if you shop there). So, CVS wants to use Microsoft’s machine learning technology to leverage all of this data and personalize your healthcare experience ​​”with the right services through the right channels at the right time.” Some examples: 

  • Text messages to let you know it’s time for the flu vaccine or Covid-19 booster shot. 
  • Preventative health recommendations, like when it’s time to get a mammography or colonoscopy. Or, getting a notification to buy sunscreen if you’re at an increased risk of melanoma (Aetna probably knows your family history). 
  • Special pharmacist counseling if you’re prescribed a new drug with weird interactions with other drugs you’re taking. 

It’s All About The Workers
The partnership will also help CVS automate many of its work processes by shifting to digital. For example, Microsoft’s technology has allowed CVS to digitize many of the prescriptions and patient information the pharmacies receive by fax (confused why the healthcare system still uses fax machines?). Microsoft will work on better technology to further streamline these types of processes through the partnership. 

I’m Not Surprised By This
A couple of weeks ago, I talked about CVS Health’s decision to close over 900 retail stores to focus on digital services. I did wonder, “what will this look like?” Now I know. While many may be skeeved out about CVS nudging you to buy sunscreen based on your medical history, I’ll embrace it if it encourages me to be more on top of my health. What do you think? 


Why are Hospitals Upset?

President Biden signed a bill to fund important federal agencies and programs through February 18th, 2022. But one important program was left out: Medicare. Hospitals and physician groups are not happy since this means less pay.

The Deets
The American Hospital Association wanted Congress to extend the hold on Medicare and Statutory PAYGO cuts from taking effect in 2022. Statutory PAYGO mandates that spending and revenue legislation do not increase the federal budget deficit over a five- or 10-year period. If they do, the Office of Management and Budget is required to implement reductions in programs requiring mandatory funding like Medicare. The CARES Act, signed at the beginning of the pandemic, placed a hold on any types of Medicare funding cuts until 2022. 

  • Since Congress didn’t extend any of the holds on Medicare cuts, Medicare spending will see a 4% reduction ($36 billion). 
  • Hospitals are estimated to take $4.7 billion in cuts in fee-for-service Medicare. 
  • Hospital providers are estimated to take $9.4 billion in cuts from the Statutory PAYGO sequester. 

Hospitals’ margins continue to decline given decreasing revenues and increasing labor expenses, up over 12% year-over-year in October. With the omicron variant picking up steam, hospitals will likely take a greater hit over the next couple of months. Sure, they’ll see an uptick in revenue from higher acuity cases, but healthcare worker labor shortages are posing a huge expense. 


Will Roe v. Wade be Overturned?

Supreme Court justices heard arguments over a Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. This is one of the most pivotal abortion cases in U.S. history, potentially overturning Roe v Wade.  

Catch Up Quick 
In 2018, Mississippi passed a law prohibiting abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy with exceptions for medical emergencies or several fetal abnormalities incompatible with life. Any doctor violating the law would have their medical licenses suspended or revoked. Shortly after the law passed, Jackson’s Women Health Organization — Mississippi’s only abortion clinic — filed a lawsuit to block the law, arguing it was unconstitutional. A federal district court judge sided with the abortion clinic, blocking the law, which a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld. Mississippi appealed to the Supreme Court. 

The Arguments 
The main question being argued: are all bans on abortion before viability unconstitutional? 

  • Jackson’s Women’s Health Organization argues the Mississippi law violates the precedent set in Roe v Wade, which established a constitutional right to abortion before the age of fetal viability (around 23 weeks) and prevented states from banning abortion. 
  • Mississippi — represented by State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs — argues the precedents set forth in Roe v Wade and Casey are “unprincipled decisions” without a basis in the Constitution. Nowhere in the Constitution, they say, does it mention a right to abortion and “a right to abortion is not a ‘liberty’” (a common argument supporting abortion). 

What Does the Supreme Court Think? 
The majority of Supreme Court justices will likely vote to uphold the Mississippi law. So the next question, then, is will Roe v Wade be ultimately overruled? How many states plan to ban or restrict abortion completely? What does this mean for women’s health? Public health? 

I want to hear your thoughts on all of this, so let me know by replying back!


  • You can now order condoms on Uber Eats. Direct to consumer company Hims & Hers is partnering with Uber to deliver personal care items via the Uber Eats app. Through this partnership, Hims & Hers is pushing its on-demand products. 
  • The FDA has expanded its emergency use authorization for Eli Lilly’s monoclonal antibodies to include children with Covid-19 at high risk for severe disease. The antibodies are named bamlanivimab and etesevimab. Bet you can’t say that ten times fast. 
  • New York has opened the country’s first supervised injection sites, in an effort to reduce overdose deaths. There is an ever-growing number of studies like this one showing that it is effective, yet adoption has been anything but quick. 
  • Sword Health is now valued at $2 billion after raising another $163 million. They are a growing virtual musculoskeletal clinic, and treat conditions you’ve heard of before: like neck and back pain. Needless to say, they have a large TAM.
  • The VA’s $16 billion dollar project to implement Cerner’s EHR is expected to resume in early 2022, after a plague of delays and other issues led to a pause this past summer. Cerner is the second-most widely used EHR after Epic, though Epic’s lead has been growing.