Brian Tilzer

Brian Tilzer
SVP and Chief Digital Officer
CVS Health

Last Updated: 03/28/2018

Executive Summary

Tilzer is Senior Vice President and Chief Digital Officer of CVS Health Corporation (formerly CVS Caremark Corporation), the largest pharmacy chain in the United States. He was appointed to the position in 2013 and is responsible for developing and leading the teams driving CVS Health’s companywide digital innovation efforts. Tilzer is also focused on connecting current and future digital initiatives and ensuring that CVS Health continues to use the most innovative technology available to seamlessly meet customers' needs. Tilzer has over 20 years of strategic business development, operations and information technology experience in the retail, consumer and health care industries. Tilzer joined Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) in 1992 and worked as a consultant for 10 years, earning an MBA in Strategic Management and Marketing from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania along the way.  In 2002, Tilzer was appointed SVP, Strategy and Business Development for Linens’n Things, where he developed and oversaw strategic planning, business development and customer insights functions for $3B retailer with 550 stores. In 2007, he joined Staples, where he held several executive roles in strategy, business development, and delivery.  In 2010, Tilzer was named Staples’ SVP of Global eCommerce, where he developed and led eCommerce teams driving multichannel digital growth across for b-to-c and b-to-b businesses globally. Tilzer launched Staples’ Cambridge eCommerce Innovation Center and led mobile and online channel development.  He was also responsible for the planning and development of the online experience for two of Staples’ cross-channel corporate growth initiatives, Copy and Print, and Office Technology.

Personal Attributes and Interests

  • Tilzer attended Horace Greeley High School between 1984 and 1988.
  • Tilzer is married and has three sons; he and his family live just outside Boston, in Sudbury. He is from Chappaqua, New York.
  • When asked what advice he might offer to big box retailers who haven’t seen much success in the digital space, Tilzer said, “It all comes back to Marketing 101. You have to know your customer. Consistently keep the focus on them and trying to understand what they want and need, and then figure out how to use some of the new e-commerce tools to support those wants. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to force a new digital methodology onto your customers if it’s not appropriate for their business. Remember, it’s always about the customer and their experience!”
  • According to an industry blog, "Tilzer’s IT experience goes all the way back to the 1960s, when his mother worked as a programmer for Equitable Life Insurance. Later, she taught her very young son how to write programs for the Apple II. This got Tilzer his first job in retail, showing customers at his local computer store what they could do with the personal computer."
  • From the looks of his Facebook page, he seems to enjoy cycling, baseball, outdoor activities and is also a Howard Stern fan.
  • Tilzer in January 2017 was appointed to the board of directors of Signet Jewelers Ltd.. “Brian brings to Signet deep, innovative digital and e-commerce experiences at major retailers,” said Chairman H. Todd Stitzer. “There is a valuable connection between Brian’s very specific experience and the strong growth opportunities ahead for Signet. Brian is a successful innovator in the digital space and we believe his knowledge and insight will make Brian a valuable addition to the Signet Board of Directors.”

Current Focus

  • Company Snapshot: CVS Health Corporation (CVS) is a Woonsocket, Rhode Island-based healthcare company that operates more than 9,600 retail pharmacies, more than 1,100 walk-in medical clinics, a leading pharmacy benefits manager (PBM) with more than 75 million plan members, a dedicated senior pharmacy care business serving more than one million patients per year, and expanding specialty pharmacy services. CVS provides integrated pharmacy healthcare services. Its Pharmacy Services segment offers pharmacy benefit management solutions, such as plan design and administration, formulary management. CVS has over 240,000 employees.
  • Specific Duties: As Senior Vice President and Chief Digital Officer for CVS Health, Tilzer is responsible for developing and leading the teams driving CVS Health’s company-wide digital innovation efforts. He is also focused on connecting current and future digital initiatives and ensuring that CVS Health continues to use the most innovative technology available to seamlessly meet customers' needs.
  • Digital Transformation: CVS Health is in the process of acquiring Aetna. According to ZDNet article, the two companies are hoping to merge their way to digital transformation, becoming a healthcare and analytics juggernaut and improve health outcomes and cut healthcare costs. The rough plan is to use CVS' physical and digital footprint to provide more last mile services in healthcare. Aetna is a direct pipeline to insurance payments and the network of healthcare pros. One of the core benefits pitched by CEO Larry Merlo was better use of data and analytics. Aetna has had a solid analytics architecture for years and has focused on reducing fraud. CVS is using its Minute Clinics and pharmacy benefits data and combining it with its retail touch points. By offering more services and personalization, CVS and Aetna are hoping they can better manage chronic conditions, coordinate care and reduce hospital readmissions. Merlo said,"…we will use our high touch connectivity to become the front door to healthcare for consumers. We will also improve consumer engagement by marrying physical and digital touch points with a broader use of data and analytics capabilities to inform healthcare decision-making and help patients navigate the complex healthcare system... By integrating data across our enterprise assets and through the use of predictive analytics, we will create targeted interactions with patients to promote healthy behaviors and drive adherence, and this will further improve the quality of care for patients while also resulting in healthier outcomes." Separately, Aetna CMO David Edelman spoke publicly in December 2017 about how Aetna's marketing team is deeply engaged in helping to shape Aetna's customer experience — including pioneering mobile and wearable touchpoints that innovate the very nature of the relationship between the company and its customers.
  • In His Own Words: Tilzer on his LinkedIn profile, accessed in November 2017, writes that he is "currently leading a bold enterprise-wide digital transformation agenda at CVS Health. Responsible for digital strategy and omni-channel digital businesses across CVS pharmacies, Caremark, CVS Specialty and MinuteClinic business units." He describes himself as a "top-performing online executive with over 20 years of general management, strategic business development, operations and information technology experience. Inspired, high energy leader and passionate team builder. Proven track record in delivering growth, innovation and technology-driven change across a variety of retailers and consumer businesses as senior executive, board member, and consultant. Formed and led the Global eCommerce team for Staples, the world’s second largest e-tailer operating in 24 countries. Board member for MITX, the leading digital business and marketing trade association in New England. Operating experience includes building and overseeing eCommerce businesses, corporate strategy groups, and merchandise planning organization. Deep expertise in corporate strategy formulation, e-commerce strategy and operations, online business development, digital talent development, and information technology strategy and implementation."
  • Leveraging Digital to Develop Enduring Customer Relationships: CVS is committed to developing enduring customer relationships that leverage digital, the National Retail Federation (NRF) observed in September 2017. Speaking at a Fast Company session at NRF's conference in Los Angeles, Tilzer said that creating meaningful digital experiences at CVS revolves around solving customer problems. “We’ve achieved the most success with digital when we thought about the role of the smartphone and how it could help consumers have a better healthcare experience,” he said. He noted several programs CVS has rolled out, including the ability to scan to refill a prescription, the option to refill prescriptions with a simple click and the capacity to take a photo of a new insurance card and rely on CVS to do the heavy lifting to process any updates. “We focus on the pain points, no pun intended, and work to make the experience better,” Tilzer said. “There’s nothing worse than showing up to pick up a prescription and finding out it’s not ready. Using our digital program, we can ask the customer to share their cell phone number when they present the prescription, and we alert them as soon as it’s ready.” He noted that CVS has thousands of pharmacy customers who need to fill upwards of six to 10 prescriptions a month. CVS uses data to construct a better experience for its customers - one that allows them to pick up everything they need once a month or once every 90 days. “We’re making decisions based what’s best for the customer,” Tilzer said. Tilzer considers digital to be table-stakes in the quest to engage today’s always-on consumer and he noted the importance of having conversations with the customer however they choose to converse. “We have a responsibility to scale these digital projects quickly, and in doing so we’re changing healthcare.” 
  • PBM Update: On a November 2017 earnings call CVS Health President and CEO Larry Merlo told analysts, "As you're all aware, we signed a five-year agreement with Anthem to provide services to support their new PBM, IngenioRx, beginning in January 2020. As part of the agreement, we'll manage certain services for IngenioRx, including claims processing and prescription fulfillment through our mail order and specialty pharmacies. These services will be private labeled to IngenioRx in order to ensure a seamless experience for Anthem members. And through this relationship, Anthem will have the ability to grow their business and enhance their value proposition, as we help them improve their financial performance, execute operationally and optimize IngenioRx's control of critical PBM functions. Additionally, Anthem is very focused on improving patient health outcomes and will be relying on our expertise in patient messaging and engagement at the point-of-sale through our multiple patient touch points to support IngenioRx in this goal. So, we're very excited about this new relationship, and we look forward to starting the implementation and to working with Anthem to provide services to help ensure coordinated holistic care for their members. Combined with our continuing success in winning new business, we believe that this contract is further validation of the important role that CVS Health's integrated and innovative pharmacy care model plays in today's healthcare system. Now, as for the 2018 selling season, we've continued to make good progress. With another $600 million in new wins, we currently have gross wins of approximately $6 billion and net new business of $2.3 billion. As I said last quarter, these new business numbers include the previously announced loss of the FEP specialty contract, but do not include any impact from our individual Med D PDP, which I'll touch on shortly. To-date, we've completed more than 90% of our client renewals for 2018, and that's roughly in line with where we were at this point last year, and our retention rate stands at about 97%."
  • Evolving Customer Expectations: "I do want to spend a few minutes talking about the evolving consumer expectations and what that may mean in being a convenient and affordable pharmacy destination," President and CEO Larry Merlo said on a November 2017 earnings call. "We have always been focused on making pharmacy and everyday healthcare better for patients. It has been and continues to be, for us, a point of differentiation. At the same time, we know there's more to be done. In terms of convenience, consumers want their medications on their schedules, and we've built a comprehensive network to serve those patients with a combination of 9,700 retail pharmacies in local communities all across the country and sophisticated mail order facilities, all of this powered by more than 30,000 clinical professionals. Our mail order services provide a convenience that meets the needs of certain patients on maintenance medications. However, some patients prefer to get their medications immediately. And for this group, there's no faster way than by walking into a CVS Pharmacy. Our pharmacists are readily available to provide counseling, answer questions and get a prescription in a patient's hands in 15 minutes. It's also important to remember that one in five prescriptions have some type of clinical intervention that requires pharmacists' involvement. And with that in mind, despite the complexity and variation of regulations across all states, we built streamline connections utilizing both people and technology with insurance companies PBMs and providers to significantly and safely reduce the amount of time consumers have to wait for these issues to be resolved. But there are also those with an immediate need who are unable to make it to a CVS either because of time transportation or mobility issues. And today, we are announcing that starting next year we will bring the pharmacy to our patients' doorsteps, with nationwide next-day delivery from our stores. And in select metro areas, we will even offer same-day delivery. Additionally, we're also announcing that we will offer free same-day delivery for pharmacy and a curated selection of front store products in Manhattan starting on December 4. And with nearly 70% of the U.S. population living within 3 miles of one of our stores, CVS Pharmacy is the most convenient choice for delivery to your doorstep. We also recognize that medication costs are a concern for all patients. And it's important to know that more than 50% of the prescriptions we fill in our stores cost patients $4 or less and 75% of those prescriptions cost patients $10 or less. We use our deep connections with PBMs and insurance providers to help patients maximize their insurance benefit using our clinical expertise to find the lowest cost therapeutically equivalent option on their plans. And we are investing in tools to make it easier for patients to navigate the confusing healthcare market and improve the understanding of their benefit designs. And we apply manufacturer coupons to help further reduce the cost. On average, our patients are realizing $55 in savings on each prescription that is coupon-eligible. In addition, we aggressively source generic alternatives for consumers and use our scale to make care more affordable as we did with Adrenaclick, a lower-cost alternative to EpiPen. We also continue to invest in our digital properties, including our highly rated retail mobile app. It helps patients manage when and how they want to receive their medications, set reminders and manage medications for their families all in one place. And to-date, the CVS Pharmacy app has been downloaded more than 21 million times. At the same time, we currently have 50 million people enrolled in our text message program which enables them to easily refill their prescriptions through their mobile devices and it's as simple as typing yes when prompted. So I think you can see we have a solid foundation that's been built on compelling scale, unsurpassed reach and extensive pharmacy expertise. And we have a plan for how to do even more to make pharmacy an everyday healthcare even better. And we look forward to sharing this in more detail with you at our December 12 Analyst Day."
  • Launches New Pharmacy Network: CVS Health in October 2017 announced a new 30,000-store performance-based pharmacy network anchored by CVS Pharmacy and Walgreens, along with up to 10,000 community-based independently owned pharmacies across the United States. The network is designed not only to deliver unit cost savings, but also to improve clinical outcomes that will lead to lower overall healthcare costs for CVS Caremark pharmacy benefit management (PBM) clients and their members. "Steadily increasing drug costs, and the current transition in healthcare from volume to value, require us to continually develop and implement innovative solutions to help our clients manage pharmacy costs while improving health outcomes," said Jon Roberts, Chief Operating Officer of CVS Health. "This partnership with Walgreens, CVS Pharmacy and independent pharmacies enables us to offer a new kind of pharmacy network that provides our clients with opportunities to improve health outcomes and lower overall healthcare costs, along with comprehensive, nationwide access to medications for their patients." Performance measures for participating pharmacies will include demonstrated medication adherence for chronic conditions that are impactful to client costs (e.g., hypertension, diabetes, respiratory conditions and behavioral health). Participating pharmacies are encouraged to implement their own proprietary programs and workflow processes to enable them to deliver results related to the measures being tracked. On a November 2017 earnings call CVS Health President and CEO Larry Merlo said, "The network is designed not only to deliver unit cost savings, but also to improve clinical outcomes that will help lower overall healthcare costs for clients and their members. This network is an innovative solution that utilizes a value-based management approach in order to achieve improved outcomes through adherence for five high-impact, highly-utilized drug classes. It also helps to provide cost savings through formulary compliance. So, we're excited to make this available to our clients for implementation beginning in March of next year, and we look forward to improving overall health and wellness, while lowering cost for patients and payers."
  • Proposal to Buy Aetna: CVS Health made a proposal to buy Aetna Inc. for more than $66 billion as it scrambles to fortify itself against looming competition from Amazon amid a continuing reordering of the healthcare industry, according to an October 2017 Wall Street Journal article. With Aetna, CVS could lock in a huge number of members for its pharmacy-benefit management, or PBM, arm, as well as customers for its drugstores. That could bolster its leverage in negotiations with drugmakers, while its oversight of health insurance could improve its ability to strike new deals that tie drug prices to patient outcomes. Aetna and CVS had already been long-term partners, signing a contract in 2010 for CVS to provide pharmacy-benefit services to the insurer. A deal for Aetna would also advance efforts CVS has been making to move further into healthcare, with services including urgent-care clinics, and could enable it to pitch a unified, seamless benefits offering to clients such as big employers. The combined company would also have a large and diversified store of health data, an important asset in today’s competitive environment. Expectations that Amazon will enter the pharmacy business helped spur CVS’s move on Aetna, according to a person familiar with the matter. An acquisition of a major insurer was among roughly a dozen strategies CVS management recently presented to directors, the person said. The urgency of the threat from Amazon was underscored when it surfaced that the company received approval for wholesale pharmacy licenses in several states.
  • Boost Health Innovation Efforts: CVS Health is poised to boost its health innovation efforts in response to a rapid-fire series of marketplace changes, according to a September 2017 Drug Store News article. That was the message at a Drug Store News forum from top executives, who demonstrated their desire to push the envelope further — and faster — and challenged suppliers to join the effort. Much of the focus will center on embracing emerging health trends — from connected health technology to DNA testing. Efforts will address empowered health and the consumer’s journey from sick care to self-care. The company will take a deeper dive into understanding how digital innovation can solve pain points for consumers. “We are committed to bringing innovative products and solutions to our customers and we are focused on finding ways to make it happen even faster,” COO Jon Roberts said. New market realities make it imperative to find different routes, he added. “The pace of change over the next five years will be greater than what we’ve seen over the past 30.” Roberts said CVS Health is aiming to address some of the biggest challenges across its expansive footprint, such as how to navigate omnichannel. “We are well positioned to bringing unique solutions to customers with our expansive retail footprint and our commitment and leadership within digital.  We have an opportunity to leverage our bricks and mortar in an omnichannel way to redefine convenience beyond how it’s defined today in the consumer’s mind,” he said. Roberts pointed to opportunities for rapid home delivery of pharmacy and front-store products via an enhanced Maintenance Choice offering. Amplifying Roberts’ comments, Foulkes talked about what it means for an organization to have an “innovation mindset,” and shared some of the ways in which the company is working to advance its digital offerings by “getting into the shoes of the consumer to solve for pain points.” These efforts gained momentum through the launch of the company’s digital innovation laboratory in Boston in 2014, which was created to spearhead new initiatives. It included the development of CVS Pay, not just for mobile payments, but also as a tool to reduce the amount of information consumers need to provide at each pharmacy visit. It also included CVS Curbside to enable mobile or desktop ordering and pickup for busy consumers.  Foulkes said that even basic technologies can turn into “game changers” for solving consumer pain points. For example, the adoption of a technology as seemingly simple as two-way texting is helping CVS solve for interruptions that come when patients change insurance plans; now its patients can simply send a photo of their new insurance cards rather than wait until they arrive at the store to find that their prescription has not been filled because of an insurance issue. “These are the kinds of innovations that really make a difference and ultimately drive the outcomes we’re all looking for,” she said. Shifting to how the pace of innovation is impacting its stores, George Coleman, VP merchandising and consumer healthcare, talked about the company’s efforts to re-imagine the customer experience around health and wellness — from healthy food to healthy skin care. A range of new efforts target the omnichannel experience, new brands and products, as well as new services such as optometry and audiology, he shared. The enhanced services will leverage a range of clinicians at the company, including pharmacists, techs and nurse practitioners. “We’re looking at telemedicine,” he said. “We’re looking at bringing health services into our stores. We’ve done pilots in optometry and audiology, and we’re scaling them further.” The front store is being transformed into a “new health and beauty destination,” he explained. These advances come against the backdrop of a shifting consumer healthcare environment and changes in the insurance landscape. Consumers “put a premium on prevention, because it’s more costly to get sick,” he said. This reality supports the journey from sick care to self-care, which makes it imperative that CVS adapts for the new climate, he explained.
  • Promotes top Tech Exec: CVS Health in August 2017 promoted Stephen Gold to Executive Vice President, Technology Operations and Innovation, and Chief Information Officer. The promotion came five years after Gold joined the company as EVP, Business and Technology Operations, and CIO. Gold is the company's senior technology executive. He has responsibility for all information systems and technology operations, including information technology strategy, application development, technology infrastructure and Pharmacy Benefit Management (PBM) Client Services Operations. Back in 2014, Gold described his main objective as transformation: "At the highest level, my role is to oversee and to drive the IT transformation of CVS Caremark so that we can continue to lead with what we call ability and agility. Specifically, we own and operate the CVS/pharmacy retail stores that everybody knows.  We own and operate CVS Caremark, a very large and successful prescription benefit management service, and own and operate MinuteClinic, our retail medical clinic business. We have the ability and the expertise to not only operate those businesses independently but, more importantly, to combine those assets strategically in a unique way that delivers unique value." Gold has more than 35 years of experience in designing and implementing large-scale technology initiatives in the PBM, eCommerce and retail industries. He joined CVS in July 2012 from Avaya Inc., where as CIO he guided all aspects of the company's technology strategy and led IT business operations and systems globally. Prior to that, he served as CIO and Chief Technology Officer for eCommerce solutions provider GSI Commerce Inc. Gold also served more than 12 years in various IT leadership positions with Merck & Company Inc. and Medco Health Solutions. Earlier in his career he spent eight years as Vice President, Production and Operations, at Dun & Bradstreet Inc.

Key Challenges

  • Lead the Pack: CVS aims to be the "world’s most technologically innovative pharmacy," reported “We’re going to invent things here that don’t exist anywhere on the planet, things that can be focused on what truly matters: our health,” Tilzer said in the October 2015 article (latest info available). “We’re using digital to change health outcomes of millions of Americans.” That broader focus has also led CVS to build what Tilzer says is the largest retail installation of beacon technology, used to send in-store messages to phones. “We’re trying to weave digital into everything about CVS Health,” he noted. According to the article, "Tilzer further explained that 85% of CVS customers are carrying smartphones, making a very mobile-first solution set key. That can mean the straightforward communications functions on the phone – but with things like healthkit and the various biometric sensors that are coming built into phones and wearables (nb: Tilzer wears an Apple Watch). The Lab exists to figure out just how to tap into those tools to better customer health. Shortly after the lab opened, it released the prototype for an otoscope that can be plugged into a phone. Kid wakes up in the middle of the night with an ear infection? No problem - stick the scope in, snap a photo and send it off to CVS for diagnosis.   The opening innovations are less flashy than the plug and play otoscope — but useful and interesting ideas nonetheless, especially for a company not known for tech prowess. Other offerings include glucose monitors, blood pressure gauges, the ability to scan one’s driver’s license instead of filling out forms and an app named Ellen – who is a personal assistant like Siri, if Siri were programmed to shame and harass you about remembering to take your pills. 'We’ve named this after my mother, Ellen, who is the ultimate nag,' Tilzer explained. The Lab, Tilzer says, is a good beginning for CVS’s digital efforts, but not a final destination. The goal now, he says, is to make the best of use of the space to develop connections and partnerships to the rich tech and health care resources in Boston.... CVS has teamed up with startup accelerator MassChallenge in Boston and digital health venture fund Rock Health in San Francisco.... 'We know that some of the best digital health innovations are already being developed, so we’ve made partnering a key part of our digital efforts,' Tilzer said of the partnership. 'We have broad scale and resources; MassChallenge offers a competitive startup accelerator program and Rock Health has an impressive portfolio of market-leading companies. By working collaboratively with each, we can rapidly design and test new ideas – ultimately bringing solutions to our customers that will dramatically impact the way they manage their health.' The MassChallenge partnership is particularly important to CVS, as a main push to open the Digital Innovation Lab in Boston (and away from CVS corporate headquaters in RI) was to develop deeper ties to the city’s tech community. And an effort that seems to be paying off."

Biographical Highlights

  • Born circa 1970.
  • Tilzer earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Quantitative Economics from Tufts University in 1992.
  • He went on to earn an MBA in Strategic Management and Marketing from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1999.
  • Tilzer was a Business and Information Technology Consultant at Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) from 1992 to 2002.
  • From 2002 to 2006 he was Senior Vice President, Strategy and Business Development, at Linens’n Things.
  • Tilzer joined Staples Inc. in 2007 and over the next six years held the following positions:
    • Vice President, Strategy, North American Retail, Technology Business Development (2007 - 2008)
    • VP, Strategy, North American Delivery (2008 - 2010)
    • SVP, Global eCommerce (2010 - 2013)
  • In 2013 Tilzer was appointed SVP and Chief Digital Officer at CVS Health.

Other Boards and Organizations

  • Member, Board of Directors, Signet Jewelers Ltd. (January 2017 - Present)

Contact Information

1 CVS Dr.
Woonsocket, RI, 02895
United States


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Personal Interests

  • Cycling
  • Baseball