When CVS Health pitched the benefits of its planned acquisition of Aetna to investors today, the pharmacy giant said the $69 billion merger could turn its drugstores into local “health hubs.” Those hubs, the company says, could help reduce healthcare costs by delivering medical services in a convenient place and reducing patients’ needs for pricey hospital visits. If nothing else, the move says a lot about the rise of retail health clinics and their growing role in the healthcare ecosphere.

Both CVS and Aetna say the acquisition—slated to close during the second half of next year—could help CVS’s more than 9,700 pharmacies offer services like in-store medical exams and counseling on the chronic conditions that make up the bulk of healthcare spending. People with diabetes, for instance, could get advice on nutrition and medication in the same place that they buy medical supplies, the companies said in a statement. And thanks in part to better data sharing, patients released from the hospital could stop by CVS for help in understanding their medications, something the companies say will reduce the chance they’ll have to be readmitted.

“These types of interventions are things that the traditional healthcare system could be doing,” said Larry Merlo, CEO of CVS Health, “but the traditional healthcare system lacks the key elements of convenience and coordination that help to engage consumers in their health.”

More than 1,100 CVS locations are already home to in-store MinuteClinics, with some offering hearing- and eye-care services as well. Rival Walgreens also has its own line of more than…

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