A recent national survey of more than 12,000 pharmacy patients reveals encouraging and useful findings about their current satisfaction with retail pharmacy. The most encouraging among them? Even in an age when people increasingly prefer to do their shopping online, patients are happy with the brick-and-mortar pharmacy store.
“Health consumers are very satisfied with their pharmacy experience,” said Greg Truex, managing director of health intelligence at J.D. Power, a global marketing information services company that conducted the survey. “J.D. Power continues to see the brick-and-mortar satisfaction average increase year over year.”
Areas of improvement
Although the survey results show satisfaction with brick-and-mortar pharmacies, they also reveal opportunities to better incorporate technology and online capabilities into the pharmacy experience.
Increase electronic interactions
According to the survey, patients who correspond with the pharmacist and staff through email or online chat are equally or more satisfied than those who meet with the pharmacist in person, yet almost 90 percent of patients still continue to only meet face-to-face. Pharmacists could make their patients’ lives more convenient and their business more efficient by utilizing online and electronic opportunities to interact with patients.
The transition to electronic interactions shouldn’t dilute the discussions, however. According to the survey, patients are more satisfied when interactions are thorough, covering at least four topics during the conversation.
Offer a mobile app
Mobile apps are also not as prevalent in pharmacy as they could be. Only one-fourth of patients use a pharmacy mobile app, even though patients who use mobile apps are significantly more satisfied than patients who don’t use apps. Use of mobile apps didn’t increase among pharmacy patients over the past year, and Truex said this presents an opportunity for pharmacies to capitalize on. “Whichever brick-and-mortar pharmacy figures this out will have a significant competitive advantage over the rest of the industry,” he said.
Focus on health and wellness shoppers
Another important finding relates to types of shoppers. The most lucrative pharmacy customers are those concerned about health and wellness. They are more likely to spend more on prescriptions and are most satisfied with their pharmacy. Nearly half of patients will use health and wellness services if they know about them, and Truex said this finding provides the best opportunity for pharmacies to increase business. He listed services such as “flu shots and vaccinations, various lifestyle programs, smoking cessation programs, health screenings, and vision and hearing tests.”
More on pharmacy trends
The big takeaway
Of all the findings from the survey, Truex emphasized patients’ satisfaction with pharmacies. “Overall satisfaction, advocacy, and loyalty are extremely high in this industry,” he said.
In fact, brick-and-mortar pharmacies are “exceeding health consumer expectations so well” that J.D. Power will be expanding its survey quarterly to get more data. “The goal is to capture the seasonal differences of the brick and mortar experience—cold and flu season, for example—to determine if they have a statistically significant impact on satisfaction scores.”
Truex spoke of the resilience of brick-and-mortar pharmacy even against the growing intrusion of online giants like Amazon. “They will enjoy a bit of a halo-effect based on the high eCommerce brand awareness,” he said. But in the end, “consumers will return to their neighborhood pharmacy.”
From the Magazine
This article was published in our quarterly print magazine, which covers relevant topics in greater depth featuring leading experts in the industry. Subscribe to receive the quarterly print issue in your mailbox. All registered independent pharmacies in the U.S. are eligible to receive a free subscription.
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