Health Mart and Medicine Shoppe International Inc. (MSI) have tied for second in Consumer Reports’ latest ranking of the best pharmacies.

Health Mart, Medicine Shoppe, best pharmacies, Consumer Reports, MSI, independent drug stores, pharmacy visits, Geoff Walden, McKesson, Tim Canning, J.D. Power 2011 Customer Service Champion, CVS/pharmacy, Walgreen, Rite Aid, Walmart, drug chains, Publix, Shopko, Hy-Vee, Bi-mart, Wegmans, big-box stores, drug stores, prescriptions

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Health Mart, MSI impress Consumer Reports

April 25th, 2011

NEW YORK – Health Mart and Medicine Shoppe International Inc. (MSI) have tied for second in Consumer Reports’ latest ranking of the best pharmacies.

While independent drug stores took the top spot with a score of 93, Health Mart and MSI were each just one point behind. The results are in the publication’s May issue.

The ratings are based on the prescription buying experiences of 43,739 subscribers between April 2009 and April 2010. As a group, 80% of the respondents were completely or very satisfied with their pharmacy visits.

Health Mart, a McKesson Corp. franchise comprising nearly 2,800 independently owned pharmacies, received high scores in each of four categories: speed and accuracy, helpfulness and courtesy, knowledge, and personal service.

“Our Health Mart pharmacists and owners continue to be recognized by consumers as health care leaders,” says president Tim Canning. “Health Mart provides locally owned, independent pharmacies with national recognition and business solutions so that Health Mart pharmacists can focus on patient care.”

The survey comes on the heels of Health Mart’s selection as a J.D. Power 2011 Customer Service Champion.

Other drug chains did not fare well. CVS/pharmacy, Walgreen Co., Rite Aid Corp. and Walmart held four of the bottom five places, with Walmart finishing last.

Publix Super Markets Inc. was the highest-ranking supermarketer, edging Hy-Vee Inc. and Wegmans Food Markets Inc. by a point. Shopko Stores Operating Co. was the top-rated discounter, and Walmart’s Sam’s Club division placed first among warehouse club operators. Membership discount chain Bi-Mart Inc. tied for third overall with Publix, with 91 points.

Twenty-two percent of readers fill their prescriptions at big-box stores, up from 14% in 2002, with price cited as an important reason for shopping them.

The survey found that drug stores generally have improved at delivering prescriptions when promised. That’s significant because nearly half of respondents said getting in and out quickly with medicine in hand was an important consideration in choosing a pharmacy — a much higher proportion than in the survey Consumer Reports conducted in 2002.

More doctors are prescribing electronically, but still not enough, the report suggests. Sixty-nine percent of readers said they drop off paper prescriptions when using walk-in pharmacies. Forty percent of doctors are e-prescribing, up from less than 1% six years ago. Yet that represents only about 18% of all eligible prescriptions in 2010.

Experts say that if more prescriptions were transmitted electronically it would help eliminate medication errors resulting from such variables as poor handwriting, wrong dosing instructions, missed drug interactions and patients’ allergies.