CVS Health’s Prescription Renewal Platform Draws Strong Reaction from AOA and ECPs

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WOONSOCKET, R.I.—CVS Health’s announcement this week that its CVS Pharmacy division has launched an online prescription renewal service for contact lenses has prompted strong reaction from ECPs across social media and has drawn a rebuke from the American Optometric Association (AOA). CVS, as VMAIL reported Tuesday, announced the launch of QuickRenew, an online contact lens prescription renewal tool powered by technology from Premium Vision, a portfolio company of 1-800 Contacts. The Premium Vision telehealth technology, currently available on the CVS Optical website, enables customers to renew their prescription with an independent ophthalmologist and then order contact lenses to be shipped to their home, the CVS announcement noted.

AOA, in its statement, said that the association, its affiliates and optometrists “call on CVS to acknowledge that this offering will lower the overall level of eye health care received by the public and that this test places them in the ranks of questionable vision tests apps that have and should continue to be investigated by the FDA.”

AOA also noted in its statement that providers, innovators and government agencies all have agreed that in the midst of the current pandemic “in-person care is irreplaceable.”

AOA added, “Which is why it is confounding that CVS [Tuesday] added an online offering, QuickRenew, to the group of existing online vision tests such as Visibly, formerly Opternative, and ExpressExam from 1-800 Contacts—none of which have been formally approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).”

Read the complete AOA statement here.

CVS said the QuickRenew renewal service is available in 32 states, where such tests are permitted. To be eligible, patients must be between the ages of 18 and 55, have been fitted for contact lenses in the past, have had a full eye exam within the last four years and have a healthy eye history, CVS said.

In addition to QuickRenew, CVS Optical this week launched a new online glasses site that provides customers the ability to order glasses in a variety of trendy and classic styles starting at just $79, and a single-vision prescription comes at no extra cost.

“We continue to adapt and evolve our digital offerings in response to the pandemic,” Michele Driscoll, vice president of customer engagement, ExtraCare, digital and promotion for CVS Health, said in the announcement.

A CVS spokeswoman told VMAIL that the drugstore chain currently operates more than 50 optical centers in six states “where there are concentrations of customers who could benefit from convenient, affordable optometry services. We are always looking at opportunities to expand more deeply into the health care space and see a natural link between overall health and vision,” the spokeswoman said in an email.

She also noted that QuickRenew is “not a replacement for regular comprehensive eye exams and patients needing a first-time or updated lens prescription should visit a local CVS optical center or their regular vision care provider for lens exams, fittings and evaluations.”

At CVS and within its optical business, Driscoll oversees digital optical operations and Chris Palmisano, VP, Strategy, Business Development & CarePass, oversees the CVS Optical Centers, according to the spokeswoman.

CVS has worked with Premium Vision since early 2019, most recently partnering to power the new QuickRenew tool with telehealth technology that helps consumers get the vision care and correction they need from anywhere.

"As we continue to innovate across channels, CVS is leveraging partnerships and new services like these to continually meet our customers with more mobile and digital offerings that help make their lives easier and help them on their path to better health,” the spokeswoman said.

A spokeswoman for Premium Vision noted that the tech company began its work with CVS to “provide e-commerce services before evolving to offer new tools and tech, like QuickRenew.”

CVS is the first Premium Vision partner to launch QuickRenew, the spokeswoman noted. Premium Vision was founded in 2013 to help optical retailers improve their ability to fulfill contact lenses directly to their customer’s doors.