Rx Drug Costs Cause Decline in Customer Satisfaction: Study

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Rx Drug Costs Cause Decline in Customer Satisfaction: Study


The U.S. pharmacy industry saw notable declines in overall customer satisfaction this year because of higher prescription costs, according to J.D. Power’s “2017 U.S. Pharmacy Study,” which revealed decreases in satisfaction in both the brick-and-mortar and mail-order sectors. Despite this drop, supermarket pharmacy customers expressed the most satisfaction.

“Pharmacies have historically earned very high marks for customer satisfaction, so any significant year-over-year decline is cause for closer investigation,” said Rick Johnson, director of the Healthcare Practice at Costa Mesa, Calif.-based J.D. Power. “Consumer concerns about rising drug prices have likely affected perceptions of the cost for their retail prescriptions. The decrease in satisfaction with cost is the primary drag on overall customer satisfaction, creating a serious challenge for retailers.”

The study found that decreases in satisfaction with brick-and-mortar pharmacies were driven by year-over-year declines in satisfaction with cost, which dropped 27 index points to 789 on a 1,000-point scale, and the in-store experience, a 14-point drop to 851. Decreases in satisfaction with mail-order pharmacies, meanwhile, were spurred by declines in satisfaction with cost (a 49-point drop to 787) and the prescription-ordering process (a 15-point decline to 877).

Other key findings of the study included:

  • Supermarkets earned the highest overall satisfaction among pharmacy channels: Among all channels studied, supermarkets had the highest levels of overall customer satisfaction, at 859, followed by mail-order (853); hospital or clinic (851); chain drug stores (849); specialty pharmacy (842); and mass merchandisers (839).
  • Drug adherence was highest with mail-order, lowest at specialty pharmacy: The 2017 study measured drug-adherence levels across the different pharmacy channels for the first time, and found that 79 percent of customers who fill their prescriptions at a brick-and-mortar pharmacy say they always adhere to their medications. By contrast drug adherence was 84 percent among mail-order customers and 74 percent among customers at specialty pharmacies (a channel newly added to this year’s study). Customers who discussed a prescription with a pharmacist in a brick-and-mortar pharmacy at the time of pickup had the highest overall levels of adherence.

Among brick-and-mortar supermarket pharmacies, Brookshire Grocery Co. ranked highest overall, with a score of 894, while H-E-B came in second, at 893, and Bi-Lo was third, at 891. Among brick-and-mortar mass merchandisers, Sam’s Club ranked highest, with a score of 874, followed by Fred’s (873) and Costco (875). Although CVS Pharmacy at Target came in fifth this year in the mass-merch channel, it had the biggest increase in satisfaction of any pharmacy from 2016: 20 points. Among mail-order pharmacies, Walmart’s Pharmacy Mail Services ranked third, at 864.

Now in its ninth year, the "U.S. Pharmacy Study" gauges customer satisfaction with brick-and-mortar, mail-order and specialty pharmacies. The 2017 study was based on responses from 17,326 pharmacy customers who filled a new prescription or refilled a prescription during the three months prior to the survey period of May-June 2017.

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