If you’re ever in a pinch, CVS really does have everything: pharmacy services, beauty products, snacks, household goods and, now, millions of dollars to funnel into early-stage healthcare technology companies.
The retail chain’s parent corporation, CVS Health, has launched a venture fund with an initial allocation of $100 million. CVS Health Ventures will provide both financial support and guidance to the companies in its portfolio, which will focus primarily on startups developing digital solutions to make healthcare more accessible.
The fund’s portfolio companies will also be able to capitalize on CVS Health’s wide reach across the healthcare ecosystem, including its thousands of storefronts and the more than 100 million customers of CVS subsidiaries like insurance provider Aetna and prescription benefit manager Caremark, the company said in a statement.
CVS Health already has quite a bit of experience investing in digital health ventures, with CVS Pharmacy and Aetna's venture arm currently backing more than 20 early-stage companies.
That portfolio, which will be separate from CVS Health Ventures', includes LumiraDx, developer of a portable diagnostic system. CVS and Aetna have also invested in Unite Us, which is building a software platform that connects individuals to health and social services providers and helps those providers track and manage their users’ needs.
The company has also begun making forays into creating its own tech-based healthcare solutions. In 2018, CVS Health initiated a program to develop a device for home dialysis that would be easier to use than currently available devices. The program also included plans to eventually integrate that device into an at-home dialysis service provided by CVS.
The following year, slightly later than expected, CVS Health launched the first trial of its HemoCare Hemodialysis System for home use. The device was developed with the help of Deka Research and Development and aims to provide an option for cleaning kidney disease patients’ blood more frequently than typical in-clinic dialysis schedules.