Industry Trend Report: Consumer Comfort With Pharmacy-Provided Vaccinations and Services Grows

Pharmacies can reach patients who are not receiving vaccines from a pharmacy but are willing to receive them.

Pharmacy Quality Solutions (PQS) published in November the 2020 Industry Trend Report on Pharmacy Quality, which tracks trends and comfort levels that have changed among consumers, pharmacies, and payers from 2019 to 2020, as it relates to pharmacist-provided services and value-based performance programs.

Todd Sega, senior vice president of Development and Strategy for PQS, and Emily Endres, vice president of Client Services for PQS, discussed the report during the February 25 Pharmacy Quality Alliance (PQA) Quality Forum, a monthly webinar series on health care quality focused on medication use and medication services.

Now in its second year, the trend report provides pharmacy industry specialists with insights on what matters to patients when working with a pharmacy. The survey is divided into 3 sections:

  1. Consumer perceptions of pharmacist-provided care.
  2. Pharmacy readiness for outcomes-based measurement.
  3. Payer challenges and opportunities with performance improvement.

The consumer perceptions section provides data on nearly 1000 consumers aged 18 years or older, who have visited a pharmacy in the past 12 months. Consumers were asked questions related to their current pharmacy use and comfort receiving vaccines from a pharmacy.

Among the 37% of respondents who had never received a vaccine from a pharmacy, approximately 60% said they would be comfortable or very comfortable receiving vaccines at a pharmacy. This represents a growth opportunity, Sega said, in which pharmacies can capture those patients who are not receiving vaccines from a pharmacy but are willing to receive them.

Of those consumers who were uncomfortable receiving vaccines from a pharmacy, the most common barrier cited was they did not know pharmacists are qualified to administer them. A close second, Sega said, was that respondents did not trust pharmacists to administer vaccines, perhaps suggesting more can be done by pharmacists to educate the public on pharmacists' roles and capabilities.

The report also provides a broad look at consumers’ perceptions of pharmacists and their evolving role in care. Consumers expect pharmacists in the future to play a larger role in several areas, including conducting health screenings and screenings for referrals.

Endres continued the webinar with a discussion of pharmacy readiness for outcomes-based measurement. Seventeen pharmacy organizations representing more than 29,000 pharmacies were surveyed.

A majority indicated that they would feel most confident linking intermediate outcome quality measures to financial reimbursement. The same was true in 2019, but in 2020 there was a 13% increase in those who preferred a hybrid of intermediate outcome and outcome-related measures. This suggests comfort with outcome-related measures may be on the rise.

The survey asked pharmacies to list their current capabilities to administer various tests and biometric screenings to patients, as well as support new initiatives that would include outcome-based measures. The results indicate that pharmacies can serve patients with screening upon request. In addition, most pharmacies said training would be needed to support new programs involving outcome-based measures.

The final section of the trend report focused on payer challenges and opportunities with performance improvement. PQS surveyed 43 payers covering approximately 70 million lives and representing national and regional health plans and pharmacy benefit managers.

In the survey, 69% of respondents indicated that the biggest challenge payers face in maximizing performance on quality measures is "understanding which intervention(s) has the greatest impact.” At the same time, 50% of payers felt they had begun to overcome this challenge over the past 2 years.

Looking ahead to the 2021 trend report, Sega said 2 points of focus would be the impact of pharmacies with a drive-thru compared to those without in prescription utilization rates as well as unique trends in antibiotic utilization compared with prior years. The team hopes to further explore concepts related to antibiotic use, including trends relative to certain antibiotic classes and the use of hydroxychloroquine and its potential to have predicted drug shortages in 2020.

The 1-hour webinar can be viewed on PQA’s YouTube channel. PQA is a national quality organization dedicated to improving medication safety, adherence and appropriate use. The Quality Forum webinar series is free to the public. Individuals can join PQA's mailing list to receive invitations to register for each forum.