Pharmacies Grow for Primary Care On-Ramps – And J.D. Power Says Consumers Like That

By | August 8, 2020

The use of health and wellness services delivered in retail pharmacies is growing, and health consumers’ satisfaction increases with use. That’s the headline for J.D. Power’s 2020 U.S. Pharmacy Study.

This is the 12th year of J.D. Power’s U.S. Pharmacy Study, this year based on a survey of 13,378 pharmacy customers who filled a prescription between June 2019 and February 2020.

The study assessed four retail prescription drug channels for consumers: brick and mortar chain drug stores, brick and mortar mass merchandisers, supermarket pharmacies, and mail order. The top ranked brands were:

  • For brick and mortar chains, Good Neighbor Pharmacy (for the 4th year in a row), Health Mart, and Rite Aid
  • For mass merchandise, Sam’s Club (for the 5th straight year), with Costco, and CVS/pharmacy inside Target (separately ranked from CVS/pharmacy) tied for second place
  • Wegmans ranking highest for supermarket pharmacies for its 3rd year in a row, followed by Publix and Winn-Dixie
  • For mail order, Humana Pharmacy for the 3rd straight year, with OptumRx and Kaiser Permanente Pharmacy 2nd and 3rd ranked.

J.D. Power’s managing director of healthcare intelligence, James Beem, commented in the press release that, “what has not been clear until now is exactly how consumers would react to the shift” in retail pharmacy’s morphing toward health care services beyond the pure prescription-fill and front-of-store retail aisles.

Health consumers are embracing pharmacy-as-service-provider, Breem found in the survey, with increasing spending on the party of patient-payors.

J.D. Power’s key findings were that:

  • Health and wellness service use is growing and driving greater consumer satisfaction. On the demand side, one in two retail pharmacy customers used at least one health and wellness service int he past year, and those people who did so had a higher satisfaction score than consumers who didn’t try a wellness/health service.
  • More use of primary care services also drove greater satisfaction and spending per consumer at a rate of $ 11 more spending per person.
  • While online ordering of scripts drives greater satisfaction, use of online Rx is lagging with just 9% of bricks and mortar consumers ordering via digital platforms. Satisfaction for those going online for eRx is greater than for people going to the store in person.

Health Populi’s Hot Points:  Some other observations I’ll note by looking at the details for the four segments:

Consumers shopping Rx at CVS inside Target have greater satisfaction levels than patients going to the “pure” CVS/pharmacy – what is the net delta on satisfaction that Target has vs. the CVS store?

For mass merchants, Walmart ranked below Sam’s Club (its sister store brand), Costco, and CVS inside Target. But Walmart has been expanding its primary care services — so we’ll watch to see in 2021’s J.D. Power study whether customer satisfaction at Walmart for Rx increases based on its growing health and wellness services footprint.

I’m a huge proponent of the grocery store as a health site for convenience and the opportunity for health consumers to marry food-as-medicine in daily living. In supermarkets, Wegmans rules again in the study this year. In the pandemic, grocery stores have emerged as trusted, safe health/care destinations given their role as essential retail for survival in 2020.

Given that the J.D. Power survey finished in February just as the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in the U.S., I’ll hypothesize that the supermarket pharmacy rankings could shift in 2021 with some of the grocery stores that gained mega-trust in the virus-crisis moving toward the top of this segment.

In the mail order, note that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) was separately ranked just below Humana (#1) in terms of its consumer ranking scale. We can always learn from the VA’s delivery of services that continue to improve and leverage technology.

We can expect to see the continued growth of primary care, wellness and a growing array of health/care in retail pharmacy. We’ve learned more about this opportunity and the benefits of care closer to home during the pandemic, which will only accelerate this trend in the coming months.

HealthPopuli.com