Consumers happy with pharmacy experience

October 9, 2006

For the fifth consecutive year, consumer satisfaction with pharmacies has risen, according to the 2006 Pharmacy Satisfaction Digest. Ninety-eight percent of respondents reported that they were either highly satisfied or satisfied with their pharmacy, up from 95% in 2002. Moreover, the number of respondents indicating that they were highly satisfied rose to 58%, a gain of 5% over the 2005 results and 13% higher than the 2002 results.

For the fifth consecutive year, consumer satisfaction with pharmacies has risen, according to the 2006 Pharmacy Satisfaction Digest. Ninety-eight percent of respondents reported that they were either highly satisfied or satisfied with their pharmacy, up from 95% in 2002. Moreover, the number of respondents indicating that they were highly satisfied rose to 58%, a gain of 5% over the 2005 results and 13% higher than the 2002 results.

More than 32,000 people responded to the survey, which focused on 23 large markets nationwide. The study looked at the demographics of pharmacy customers, the types of pharmacies used, services rendered, speed of service, over-the-counter products purchased, spending levels, as well as overall satisfaction with the pharmacy experience.

Interestingly, the level of satisfaction was not uniform across the board. Independent pharmacies consistently scored higher than other types of pharmacies, with 72% of respondents indicating that they were highly satisfied with the experience, followed by food/grocery store pharmacies (61%); clinics (58%); chains (55%); mass merchants, such as Target and Wal-Mart (55%); and mail/on-line pharmacies, which had the lowest level of satisfaction at 52%.

"Pharmacists need to get out from behind the counter and talk to customers," Wilson argued. "They have a long way to go to have better relationships with their customers."

Building that relationship will take some work. In the survey, two-thirds of the respondents said they were offered an opportunity to talk to the pharmacist, but only 24% actually did. Not surprisingly, customers at independent and grocery pharmacies were most likely to speak to the pharmacist and those at mail-order/on-line pharmacies were least likely. Furthermore, those who did speak to a pharmacist said it was far more likely to affect their decision to return to the same pharmacy and to recommend the pharmacy to others.

Ease in dealing with insurance and the pharmacist's professional expertise remain the top priority for consumers when visiting a pharmacy. Eighty-two percent of respondents indicated that it was very important to have prescriptions filled accurately, and 72% feel that it is very important to have the prescriptions filled accurately with easy-to-understand labels and that the drugs are in stock when needed. Interestingly, protecting the privacy of medical records was viewed as slightly more important than the ability to speak to the pharmacist (66% to 65%, respectively).