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Pharmacy customer satisfaction remains high

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Interaction with pharmacy staff a key driver, annual J.D. Power study finds

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. — Consumers continue to give high marks to service and staff at retail pharmacies, according to the J.D. Power 2015 U.S. Pharmacy Study.

CVS pharmacy areaJ.D. Power said Monday that customer satisfaction with pharmacies has remained at a high level amid the myriad changes in the nation’s health care sector.

On a scale of 1,000 points, satisfaction with chain drug store pharmacies edged up 2 points from a year ago to 842, while supermarket pharmacies rose 8 points to 851 in the 2015 study.

Meanwhile, satisfaction with mass merchandiser pharmacies fell to 822 from 830 a year earlier, and mail order pharmacies saw customer satisfaction slip 2 points to 820.

“The health care industry has undergone tremendous changes in recent years, and more changes are coming. So stable customer satisfaction with pharmacies is very positive,” Rick Johnson, director of the health care practice at J.D. Power, said in a statement. “Pharmacies serve as a benchmark for other entities in the health care ecosystem, as they continue to have the highest levels of customer satisfaction in the health care industry, demonstrating that focusing on customer satisfaction is good for both patients and businesses.”

The 2015 U.S. Pharmacy Study is based on responses from 14,914 pharmacy customers who filled a new prescription or refilled a prescription in the previous the three months. Now in its ninth year, the study gauges customer satisfaction with brick-and-mortar pharmacies — including chain drug stores, mass merchandisers and supermarkets — and mail order pharmacies.

Satisfaction with brick-and-mortar pharmacies is measured according to prescription ordering, the store, cost competitiveness; nonpharmacist staff and pharmacists. Satisfaction with mail order pharmacies is assessed based on cost competitiveness, prescription delivery, the prescription ordering process and the customer service experience.

Among brick-and-mortar pharmacies, Good Neighbor Pharmacy came in No. 1 for the second straight year in the chain drug segment with a score of 876, followed by Health Mart (871) and Medicine Shoppe (861). Those three chains are independent pharmacy networks run by drug distributors: AmerisourceBergen (Good Neighbor), McKesson (Health Mart) and Medicine Shoppe (Cardinal Health).

Of the nation’s three largest drug chains, Rite Aid posted a satisfaction rating of 840, followed by CVS/pharmacy (839) and Walgreens (835), all in line with the chain drug segment average of 842.

“Locally owned and operated pharmacies Good Neighbor Pharmacy, Health Mart and The Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy bested the competition in their market segment of the survey,” commented B. Douglas Hoey, chief executive officer of the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA). “The patient-first approach of these and all independent community pharmacies to customer service resonates with consumers, and this study reaffirms that fact.”

With a score of 887, Wegmans finished first overall and in the supermarket pharmacy segment, followed by Publix (871),  H-E-B (866) and Kroger (861), according to the J.D. Power study. Giant (849) had a rating nearly the segment average of 851, while Stop & Shop (841), Hy-Vee (838), ShopRite (832), Albertsons (820), Giant Eagle (818) and Safeway (806) had below average scores, according to the study.

Target (858) ranked highest among mass merchandiser pharmacies, followed by Sam’s Club (847) and Meijer (842). Kmart (840), Costco (836) and Shopko (832) also posted ratings above the segment average of 822, while Walmart (805) came in below average.

In the mail order segment, Humana Pharmacy (875) came in first, followed by Kaiser Permanente Mail Pharmacy (866), Express Scripts (824) and Walmart Pharmacy Mail Services (822). CVS/caremark (801) and Walgreens Mail Service (800) finished below the segment average of 820.

J.D. Power noted that pharmacists and pharmacy staff play an integral role in customer satisfaction. The simple step of asking customers if they would like to speak with a pharmacist raises overall pharmacy customer satisfaction by 54 points, the study found. And when customers perceive their conversations are handled with discretion and a private area for discussions is provided, satisfaction climbs 99 points.

What’s more, customers who speak with a pharmacist are much more likely to buy other items from the pharmacy, and they show higher loyalty rates. Forty-four percent of customers who speak with a pharmacist “strongly agree they feel loyal to their pharmacy,” while 35% of those who do not speak with a pharmacist say the same.

Other key findings in the J.D. Power study included the following:

• Of customers who use health testing and wellness services at their pharmacy, 63% said they “definitely will” recommend their pharmacy, and 46% “strongly agree they feel loyal to their pharmacy.” Among customers who don’t use health testing and wellness services at the pharmacy, 55% “definitely will” recommend their pharmacy and 37% “strongly agree they feel loyal to their pharmacy.”

• 60% of customers health services buy other merchandise at the pharmacy, while just 37% customers who don’t use health services do so.

• 91% of customers at brick-and-mortar pharmacies get their prescription when or before promised.

• Satisfaction for mail order and brick-and-mortar pharmacy customers combined drops 38 points when customers run out of medication before a refill is available.

On average, customers of brick-and-mortar pharmacies pay $23 out of pocket for prescriptions in 2015, up from $22 in 2014. Customers of mail order pharmacies, on average, had out-of-pocket prescription costs of $32, down from $35 in 2014.

*Editor’s Note: Article updated with comment from NCPA.


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