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Understanding environmental threats to member health

Impacts of extreme weather and natural disasters


From the Editors


Climate change has driven an increase in extreme weather events and natural disasters that can impact member health and access to medication. As technology has improved meteorologists’ ability to issue accurate forecasts, it also has improved our ability to understand and predict weather impacts on human health – even down to a hyperlocal, or individual, level. Pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) such as CVS Caremark can play a key role in connecting weather data with health information predictively to anticipate these events and help plan sponsors and members prepare.


A panel of experts discusses how to mitigate the health impacts of extreme weather at Forum 2023.


As health care professionals and doctors, nurses, pharmacists, we have a really unique opportunity to educate our patients, the communities we serve, but also fellow health care providers around the threats of these extreme weather events.

As the weather forecasts get better, it helps us to have a better understanding of what's going to happen. We have a better opportunity to be able to bridge the gap between a weather forecast on a phone and what that means for you, specifically, your specific circumstance- where you live, how much money you have, what you're going to be doing every day- and translate that information into something that's actionable for you.

That's where the world is heading and that's where it needs to head because by doing that, we can begin to dramatically increase health outcomes by helping people do things- not go running, if the air quality is above a certain level, maybe stay home and do something inside. All of those kinds of things that happen sort of organically we have the opportunity now to do at scale.

So, what we're in the midst of doing is pulling in hyperlocal weather data
as well as air quality data and then identifying members who are at risk based on their pharmacy utilization and medical comorbidities.

And the vision there is to push out notifications that are personalized and proactive in the face of extreme weather events, to really empower them to take steps that keep themselves and their families safe.

So, I think about folks at risk for wildfire smoke inhalation, asthma, COPD, older folks, folks that require medication to manage their respiratory diseases.

If we can get ahead of these extreme weather events, I think there's a big opportunity to save lives. The kind of events that we've been seeing
are going to continue.

The future is having a digital- having Dan in your pocket to tell you what you should be doing tomorrow or not doing and making sure you have the right kind of medicine and being informed and prepared in a very, very hyperlocal way.