Interaction with pharmacist key to patient satisfaction: J.D. Power study

September 25, 2014

How often do patients reach out to pharmacists in brick-and-mortar stores? The answer may surprise you.

Pharmacists’ interactions with patients drive patient satisfaction in both brick-and-mortar pharmacies and mail-order facilities, according to the J.D. Power 2014 U.S. Pharmacy Study released Sept. 25.

“For brick-and-mortar pharmacies, ensuring pharmacists are directly interacting with customers is one of the keys to delivering a satisfactory experience. For mail-order pharmacies, it’s critical that customers have easy access to a pharmacist through such channels as a phone number that is easy to access and online chat,” said Rick Johnson, director of the healthcare practice at J.D. Power.

However, according to the study, only one in 25 customers will reach out to speak to a pharmacist working in a brick-and-mortar store, whereas one in 10 customers contact a pharmacist at a mail-order facility.

Information and supply

Customers’ conversations with pharmacists and staff that had the greatest impact on overall satisfaction were discussions that ensured a continuous supply of their medication, provided information about medication risks and side effects or costs, and provided access to health-and-wellness care, according to the study.

Pharmacy patients reported running out of medication before obtaining their refills at a rate of 13% for chain drugstores, 14% for supermarket pharmacies, 15% for mass merchandisers, and 10% for mail-order pharmacies. Therefore, it is important to develop a plan to ensure that patients adhere to their medications, the study emphasized.

“Customer interaction with a pharmacist also impacts additional store purchases,” the study noted. “Among customers who speak directly with a pharmacist in a chain drugstore, 29% purchase an over-the-counter medication and 59% purchase an additional nonpharmaceutical product to go with their prescription.”

An in-store clinic or wellness center also boosted customer satisfaction with brick-and-mortar pharmacies by more than 40 points. Customers who showed by six percentage points that they “strongly agree” that they are loyal to their pharmacy contributed to an eight-percentage-point increase in store purchases, the study found.

 

Brick-and mortar-pharmacy rankings

Chain drugstores: Among the brick-and-mortar pharmacies, Good Neighbor Pharmacy ranked the highest in the chain drugstore segment for customer satisfaction, scoring 884 on a 1,000-point scale. It was followed by Health Mart (873) and Walgreens (848). The average patient satisfaction score for the chain drugstore segment was 840.

NCPA President Mark Riley, PharmD, a pharmacist and executive vice president and CEO of the Arkansas Pharmacists Association, congratulated both Good Neighbor Pharmacy and Health Mart, both independent pharmacy chains, for their high satisfaction ratings.

“NCPA commends America’s independent community pharmacists for achieving the highest customer satisfaction ratings in their respective segment of the J.D. Power 2014 U.S. Pharmacy Study,” Riley said. “Had the survey incorporated locally owned community pharmacies that operate under other brands, I am confident that they, too, would have received superlative satisfaction ratings.”

Mass merchandisers: In the mass merchandiser segment of brick-and-mortar pharmacies, Sam’s Club (865), Target (851), and Costco (850) pharmacies came out on top, ranking significantly higher for customer satisfaction than the average mass merchandiser did with a score of 830.

Supermarkets: Among the supermarket segment of brick-and-mortar pharmacies, Publix and Wegmans were neck and neck for the top spot for overall customer satisfaction, with scores of 886 and 883, respectively. H-E-B and Hy-Vee pharmacies were not far behind, with patient satisfaction scores of 864 and 852, respectively. The average supermarket customer satisfaction score was 843.

 

Mail-order pharmacy rankings

The top three mail-order pharmacies for overall customer satisfaction were Kaiser Permanente Mail Pharmacy (865), Humana Right SourceRx (862), and Walgreens Mail Service (844). The average mail-order customer satisfaction score was 822.

“In the mail-order segment, just one in 10 customers interact with a pharmacist, and satisfaction is high among those who use the chat feature,” said Johnson of J. D. Power.

The 2014 study was based on responses from nearly 14,000 pharmacy customers who filled or refilled a prescription three months before the survey was conducted, which was between June and July this year.