Pharmacies Gain Central Position in Nation’s Health Care Over Primary Doctors

Recent trends are showing that pharmacies are playing a much more central role in the nation’s health care, according to the 2020 U.S. Pharmacy Study released today by J.D. Power in Troy.
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Pharmacist helping customer
The 2020 J.D. Power Pharmacy Study shows pharmacies moving to play a more central role in the nation’s health care. / Stock photo

Recent trends are showing that pharmacies are playing a much more central role in the nation’s health care, according to the 2020 U.S. Pharmacy Study released today by J.D. Power in Troy.

Pharmacist consultation kiosks, exam rooms, and walk-in vaccination sites are part of a concerted effort by the nation’s major pharmacy chains to become the center of gravity for consumer health care, says J.D. Power.

In addition, the pharmacy expansion into primary care is driving significant increases in both satisfaction and consumer spending.

“When you look at the major pharmacy business trends of the past couple of years — CVS acquiring Aetna, Walgreens partnering with Humana, and Walmart moving into health insurance —  it’s clear that pharmacy operators are positioning themselves to become hubs of consumer health care, edging into the space once reserved for primary care physicians’ offices,” says James Beem, managing director of health care intelligence at J.D. Power.

“What has not been clear until now is exactly how consumers would react to the shift. Simply put, they’re embracing it, and it’s driving higher overall satisfaction and increased spending as they use more health and wellness-oriented services.”

Key survey findings include:

  • Customers who use pharmacy health and wellness services increases customer satisfaction. Nearly half (48 percent) of retail pharmacy customers have used at least one health and wellness-oriented service provided by their pharmacy this year, up a significant 5 percentage points from 2019. More important, overall customer satisfaction with the retail pharmacy is 26 points higher (on a 1,000-point scale) among customers who use health and wellness services vs. those who have not. Among customers who use two or more health and wellness-oriented services, overall satisfaction jumps to 907 vs. 861 for those who don’t use any service.
  • Deeper penetration into primary care also drives increased spending. Customers who use at least one health and wellness-oriented service provided by their pharmacy spend an average of $11 more per customer than those who do not use these services ($35 vs. $24, respectively). When customers use two or more health and wellness-oriented services, that average spend climbs to $58.
  • While digital ordering drives high levels of satisfaction, utilization in the pharmacy world remains low. Less than 10 percent (9 percent) of brick-and-mortar pharmacy customers order their prescriptions via digital channels. Despite the low utilization rate, overall satisfaction among those customers who do order digitally through a brick-and-mortar pharmacy is 859, which is five points higher than among those who only visit the store in person. By contrast, mail-order pharmacy customers are far more frequent users of digital ordering, with 32 percent ordering prescriptions via digital channels. These mail-order digital customers have even higher levels of satisfaction, with an overall satisfaction score of 867.
  • Key influencers affect utilization rates. Physician recommendations for pharmacy-delivered health and wellness services are associated with an 80 percent utilization rate and recommendations from friends and family are associated with a 75 percent utilization rate. Eight percent of customers, however, say they’ve received a recommendation from their doctor and 9 percent have received a recommendation from friends and family. The most common means of hearing about these services is in-store advertising, which drives a 45 percent utilization rate.

Study Rankings

Good Neighbor Pharmacy ranks highest among brick-and-mortar chain drug store pharmacies for a fourth consecutive year, with a score of 915. Health Mart (905) ranks second and Rite Aid Pharmacy ranks third (861).

Sam’s Club ranks highest among brick-and-mortar mass merchandiser pharmacies for a fifth consecutive year, with a score of 885. Costco and CVS/pharmacy inside Target (870 each) rank second in a tie.

Wegmans ranks highest among brick-and-mortar supermarket pharmacies for a third consecutive year, with a score of 904. Publix (889) ranks second and Winn-Dixie ranks third (883).

Humana Pharmacy ranks highest in the mail order segment for a third consecutive year, with a score of 904. OptumRx (886) ranks second and Kaiser Permanente Pharmacy (883) ranks third.

The U.S. Pharmacy Study, now in its 12th year, is based on responses from 13,378 pharmacy customers who filled a prescription during the three months prior to the survey period of September 2019-May 2020.

For more information about the U.S. Pharmacy Study, visit here.

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