Customer satisfaction with traditional brick-and-mortar pharmacies continues to outpace satisfaction with mail-order pharmacies, according to the J.D. Power 2013 U.S. Pharmacy Study, released today.

“One of the things we’ve seen in the data is that if someone feels compelled to use a mail-order [pharmacy] their satisfaction is going to be significantly lower than somebody who chooses to use it on their own,” says Scott Hawkins, director of the health care practice at J.D. Power. “That would be one of the messages to employers: Consider benefit design and if you’re trying to encourage people to use mail order, identify the benefits that go along with mail order and encourage them to use it. For them to come to that conclusion on their own is probably going to yield better satisfaction for that experience.”

 Key findings from the study include:

  • The percentage of customers who indicate filling repeat prescriptions at a brick and mortar pharmacy has increased to 61 percent in 2013 — up from 58 percent three years ago.
  • The self-reported number of prescriptions per mail order dropped to 2.3 in 2013 from 2.8 in 2011, while it has remained steady at 2.3 for brick and mortar pharmacies in the same time period.
  • Although customer satisfaction with mail-order pharmacies improves to 797 index points on a 1,000-point scale in 2013, up from 792 in 2012, satisfaction with brick and mortar pharmacies increases by 23 points during the same time period, now averaging 837 points. 
  • While mail order had a seven-point advantage in perceived cost competitiveness over brick and mortar in 2011, in 2013 it is at an 18-point disadvantage in the cost factor.

Kaiser Permanente Mail Pharmacy achieved the highest customer satisfaction, ranking 868 on a 1,000-point scale. Caremark ranked lowest in terms of customer satisfaction, with 760 on a 1,000-point scale. Among brick and mortar pharmacies in the chain drug store segment, Good Neighbor Pharmacy achieved the highest customer satisfaction rating, with 885 on a 1,000-point scale. Duane Reade ranked lowest in customer satisfaction, achieving a rating of 764 on the 1,000-point scale.
Hawkins is quick to point out that pharmacies, including mail order, as a whole rank very highly in the J.D. Power studies, when compared to other industries such as health insurers. In J.D. Power’s 2013 Employer Health Plan Study, among fully insured employers, satisfaction averaged 709 on a 1,000-point scale. Among self-funded employers, satisfaction averaged 696.

“I don’t think there is a negative here. What’s concerning is that the gap is widening between the mail order satisfaction and brick and mortar satisfaction,” he says.

The 2013 U.S. Pharmacy Study is based on responses from more than 13,500 pharmacy customers who filled a new prescription or refilled a prescription during the three months prior to the survey period. Customer satisfaction with brick and mortar pharmacies is measured across five key factors: prescription ordering; store; cost; non-pharmacist staff; and pharmacist. Four factors are examined in the mail-order segment: cost; prescription delivery; prescription ordering process; and customer service experience.

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