Although adults between 18 and 24 years of age are increasingly using mass merchants with a pharmacy, adults aged 65 years and over are largely shifting to mail-order pharmacies, according to preliminary results from the Pharmacy Quality Solutions (PQS) Annual Trend Report in Pharmacy Quality, presented Thursday at the PQA 2020 Annual Meeting.

The full report, released later in the summer, will include data on pharmacy readiness and preferences around outcomes-based measurements as well as data on payer challenges and opportunities; however, the presentation on Thursday focused on questions around consumer perceptions and behaviors.

The survey invitation was sent to 2484 consumers 18 years and older who had visited a pharmacy within the last 12 months, and it was completed by 999 respondents.

Young adults aged between 18 and 34 years have shifted to mass merchants with pharmacies and independent pharmacies, according to the findings. In the 2019 survey, just approximately 12% of respondents in that age group said they used independent pharmacies, compared with approximately 35% in 2020.

Mail-order pharmacies also experienced a significant shift, according to the data. In the 2019 survey, 0 respondents said they used mail order, compared with 41 respondents in 2020. More than 42% of those respondents were 65 years or older.

The survey also collected data about whether consumers are comfortable receiving vaccines in the pharmacy. In 2019, approximately 40% of respondents said they had never received a vaccine in a pharmacy, compared with approximately 37% in 2020. Significantly, almost 50% of respondents said they had received a vaccine from a pharmacy within the past 12 months.

Notably, the survey also found growing comfort levels among the group who said they have never received a vaccine in a pharmacy.

“That’s an opportunity to educate a whole other population and to potentially vaccinate at a community pharmacy,” said Todd Sega, PharmD, senior vice president of development and strategy at PQS, during the session.

Similar to the shifting demographics at independent pharmacies, the survey also found a shift in vaccinations at independent pharmacies. In the 2019 survey, Sega said a large percentage of respondents had never received a vaccine at a pharmacy. In 2020, nearly 50% said they had received a vaccine at an independent pharmacy in the preceding 12 months.

Finally, because the survey was sent out in March, Sega said they were able to include some questions about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and respondents’ comfort with receiving testing and treatment at various locations. The location options in the survey included pharmacies with and without a drive-through option, hospitals, urgent care facilities, and primary care offices.

With the exception of hospitals, respondents were more comfortable receiving testing rather than treatment at all facilities, although the differences were not large. For example, 87% of respondents were comfortable receiving testing at a primary care office and 85% were comfortable receiving treatment.

When asked about hospitals, 82% of respondents said they were comfortable receiving testing, compared with 84% who said they were comfortable being treated in a hospital environment.

According to the findings, respondents were more comfortable receiving testing and treatment at pharmacies with a drive-through option. The results found that 80% were comfortable receiving testing at such locations and 71% were comfortable receiving treatment, compared with 68% and 62%, respectively, at pharmacies without a drive-through.

Sega said these findings could help pharmacists without a drive-through option tailor their messaging to ensure that their patients know about the safety precautions and security measures in place at their pharmacy.

REFERENCE
Sega T. Annual PQS Trend Report in Pharmacy Quality. Presented at PQA 2020 Annual Meeting; May 14, 2020.