CVS Health promoted Dr. Sree Chaguturu to be the company’s top physician as the retail drugstore chain and health insurance giant emphasizes the importance of primary care.

Chaguturu, who is 44 years old, is now the executive vice president and chief medical officer reporting to CVS president and chief executive officer Karen S. Lynch and will “be responsible for advancing the highest possible clinical quality standards, increasing access to care, improving patient outcomes and reducing overall health care costs across the enterprise,” the company said in announcing Chaguturu’s promotion Tuesday. He replaces Troyen Brennan who retired.

Chaguturu, who was previously chief medical officer for the company’s pharmacy benefit management (PBM) business, CVS Caremark, will now oversee an array of medical affairs for the Aetna health insurance business, CVS Caremark, CVS Pharmacy, MinuteClinic, women’s health and genomics, patient safety, health equity, data and analytics, the company said.

“Since joining CVS Health in 2019, Sree has been an influential and respected clinical leader, serving as a trusted advisor for clients, members, and colleagues,” Lynch said. “He played a critical role in the company’s pandemic response, including leading Return Ready, our employer COVID-19 testing and vaccination offering.”

CVS, which is already known for its MinuteClinics staffed by nurse practitioners, will be broadening its strategy into a “nationally-scaled next generation primary care model,” company executives said last December at the company’s annual investor day.

CVS has already been working on an enhanced version of its HealthHUB locations which dedicate more than 20% of the store to health services that include new durable medical equipment, supplies and various new product and service combinations. CVS is also adding thousands of new personal care items as well as additional services at its MinuteClinics in the health hub stores.

The moves come as CVS rivals Walgreens Boots Alliance and Walmart push deeper into healthcare services, expanding available items in their stores and adding primary care services to their stores. Walgreens last year invested another $5.2 billion in VillageMD to escalate the expansion of doctor-staffed clinics across the U.S. under a new “Walgreens Health” business.

CVS executives believe they have the model that will continue to attract more customers.

“CVS Health is uniquely positioned to build upon its existing capabilities and extensive reach to improve the health care experience for millions of people,” Chaguturu said in the statement announcing his new role. “Our exceptionally talented Medical Affairs organization will help align, integrate and enhance our health care services and assets to help address the needs that exist in our health care system today.”

By Percy