Karen S. Lynch is an American business executive who currently serves as the President and CEO of CVS Health. She assumed the role of CEO in February 2021, succeeding Larry Merlo.
Prior to joining CVS Health, Lynch held executive positions at Magellan Health, a healthcare management company where she served as President, and at Cigna, a global health service company.
Lynch joined CVS Health in 2018 as Executive Vice President and President of the Aetna business unit.
Since then, Lynch has played a crucial role in shaping CVS Health's strategic direction and driving its transformation into a diversified healthcare company. She has focused on advancing the company's purpose of helping people on their path to better health by integrating pharmacy services, healthcare benefits, and innovative solutions to improve patient outcomes and access to care. She is also personally and professionally dedicated to elevating mental health support.
“Mental health challenges can truly impact anyone. I understand this on a personal level – my mother wasn’t able to get the help that she needed to address her struggles, and it tragically led to her taking her own life. Because of her experiences, I’m driven and committed to helping increase access to mental health services for everyone.”
CVS Health promotes mental health screening through its various programmes and partnerships. For instance, through its MinuteClinic division, CVS Health offers screenings for mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. The company also collaborates with advocacy organisations and mental health providers to raise awareness, reduce stigma, and support initiatives that focus on mental health education, early intervention, and prevention.
As an employer, CVS Health recognises the importance of supporting the mental health and well-being of its employees. The company provides various employee assistance programmes (EAP) and resources to support mental health, including counselling services, mental health hotlines, and access to confidential mental health resources. CVS Health also emphasises a supportive work environment, promoting mental health awareness and education among its workforce.
“Mental health is a huge issue in the US, particularly in children. We are seeing an enormous increase in the suicide of young adults. We’ve put counsellors in some CVS locations, and we have vastly increased our telehealth services. There were 9,000 telehealth mental health visits a year pre-pandemic; now, we are up to 20m. Your head is connected to your body. Until we think about this holistically, we are not going to be able to address the full issue.”
Leadership, responsibilities and power in healthcare
Under Lynch's leadership, CVS Health has undertaken initiatives to expand its healthcare services, including the establishment of HealthHUBs, which are store-based health centres offering a broader range of healthcare services, such as chronic disease management, wellness programmes and expanded primary care. The company has also been at the forefront of efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic by providing testing, vaccinations, and other related services.
In addition to her responsibilities at CVS Health, Lynch serves on the boards of various organisations, including the Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs, and the Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing, which advocates for affordable prescription drug prices.
Lynch has been recognised for her leadership and contributions to the healthcare industry. She has been featured on Forbes' list of ‘America's Most Powerful Women in Business’ and was named one of the ‘Most Powerful Women in Health Care’ by Modern Healthcare.