J.D. Power study sees ratings rise across pharmacy segments
Still, chain drug stores as a group trailed supermarket pharmacies and mail order pharmacies in terms of patient satisfaction, according to the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Pharmacy Study, released on Monday. Drug chains, too, accounted for only two of the top 10 brick-and-mortar pharmacies ranked by customer satisfaction, the study showed.
This year’s survey is based on responses from 14,789 pharmacy customers who filled a new prescription or refilled a prescription in the previous three months. The annual study gauges customer satisfaction with brick-and-mortar pharmacies — including chain drug stores, mass merchandisers and supermarkets — and mail order pharmacies.
Using a 1,000-point scale, J.D. Power’s study measured satisfaction according to the prescription ordering/pick-up process, the store, cost competitiveness, nonpharmacist staff and pharmacists for brick-and-mortar pharmacies.
For mail order pharmacies, satisfaction was evaluated by the prescription ordering process, prescription delivery, nonpharmacist staff, cost competitiveness and pharmacists.
Among brick-and-mortar drug chains, Health Mart was No. 1 in pharmacy customer satisfaction with a score of 898, followed closely by Good Neighbor Pharmacy — the top chain drug finisher the past two years — at 896. J.D. Power noted that Health Mart rated especially well in the store, nonpharmacist staff, cost competitiveness and pharmacist satisfaction measures.
The high ratings for Health Mart and Good Neighbor continue the strong showing in the J.D. Power study by independent pharmacies. The two chains are independent pharmacy networks run by drug distributors McKesson (Health Mart) and AmerisourceBergen (Good Neighbor).
Of the nation’s three biggest drug chains, Walgreens had the highest satisfaction score at 865, followed by Rite Aid (856) and CVS Pharmacy (853). All three saw their satisfaction scores rise significantly from a year ago. Average overall satisfaction in the chain drug segment came in at 863 in the 2016 study, jumping from 842 in last year’s survey.
The top overall finisher among brick-and-mortar pharmacies was Publix Super Markets with a score of 912, ahead of the No. 2 finisher among supermarket pharmacies, Wegmans Food Markets, at 891. J.D. Power said Publix pharmacies performed particularly well in the store, nonpharmacist staff, pharmacist and prescription ordering/pick-up process satisfaction factors.
The supermarket segment’s average satisfaction score was 874. Following Wegmans were H-E-B (880), Kroger (877), ShopRite (869), Hy-Vee (868), Albertsons (860), Stop & Shop (859), Giant (855), Safeway (841) and Giant Eagle (840).
With a score of 883, Sam’s Club led the field for mass merchants in pharmacy customer satisfaction and stood out in such areas as nonpharmacist staff, pharmacists and the prescription ordering/pick-up process, J.D. Power reported. Costco ranked second at 880, followed by Target (875), Shopko (874), Kmart (862), Meijer (857) and Walmart (844).
Mass merchants had an average overall satisfaction score of 851. Also rated in this segment were CVS Pharmacy locations within a Target store, which scored 829.
Across segments, including mail order, pharmacy customer satisfaction remains high, according to J.D. Power. That reflects a sharper focus on customer service and the expansion of in-store health clinics, the market researcher said.
Rick Johnson, director of J.D. Power’s health care practice, noted that customers visiting pharmacies are embracing their expanding menu of health care services. The study found that satisfaction with pharmacies where wellness services have been used is almost 20 points higher than when those services haven’t been used.
“Increasingly, customers are turning two errands into one when, for example, they need to pick up a prescription and get a flu shot,” Johnson explained. “Pharmacies that are cognizant of their customers’ needs — and their time — will likely continue to achieve high satisfaction.”
More consumers, too, have turned to mail delivery for prescriptions for its convenience and cost benefits, he added.
That is reflected in mail order pharmacy’s high satisfaction ratings, which climbed to a segment average of 869 from 820 a year ago. Kaiser Permanente Pharmacy finished first in customer satisfaction among mail pharmacies with a score of 906, followed by Humana RightSourceRx (890), Walgreens Mail Service (886), Walmart Pharmacy Mail Services (882), OptumRx (869), Express Scripts (866), CVS Caremark (853), Aetna Rx Home Delivery (841), Prime Therapeutics (823) and the Cigna Home Delivery Pharmacy Program (818).
J.D. Power added that the Veterans Administration mail order pharmacy (CMOP) remains one of the highest-performing pharmacies in the mail order segment in terms of patient satisfaction. That service, though, isn’t included in the study’s official rankings because it’s open only to veterans of the U.S. military and their families.
According to Johnson, pharmacies with high customer satisfaction ratings — whether brick-and-mortar or mail service — share two characteristics. “Great staff and an easy, efficient ordering process are common traits of both types of pharmacy experiences,” he observed.