A study suggests the paradigm of retail pharmacy is shifting, as customers are wanting more health and wellness-centered pharmacies as well as digital services.
The retail pharmacy industry could compete with the growing threat of online retailers by evolving towards a model more focused on health and wellness services and medication management, according to data from a JD Power 2022 US pharmacy study.1
“Customers are beginning to embrace their retail pharmacy as a hub for a broad range of routine health and wellness services,” said Christopher Lis, managing director, global healthcare intelligence at JD Power, in a press release.1
Established 14 years ago, the US Pharmacy Study was redesigned in 2022, adding the measurement of customer satisfaction with brick-and-mortar and mail order pharmacies. Between September 2021 and May 2022, researchers surveyed 12,142 pharmacy customers who filled a prescription within the past year.
Researchers discovered one key finding among customers: a desire to have routine health care services available at their local retail pharmacy. Among respondents, 33% were interested in hearing and vision services, and 27% were interested in physical exams and routine lab tests—though neither are currently being offered.1
When customers use their pharmacy’s health and wellness services, they are more likely to stay, according to 52% of respondents. On the opposite end of the spectrum, 45% of respondents noted they do not use health and wellness services when available at pharmacies.1
Health and wellness services like influenza vaccination served as an important event to increase customer loyalty.2 Over 258.1 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were administered at brick-and-mortar pharmacies, according to the CDC.2
However, Michael Millenson, president, Health Quality Advisors, LLC, told Fierce Healthcare that he has experienced a large shortage of pharmacists at pharmacies in his area, after needing to go to multiple sites for his COVID-19 vaccines.
“Retail pharmacies are not equipped to cope with a huge influx of health care customers,” Millenson said in the press release.2
Amazon pharmacy is also proving to be a steadfast competitor for retail pharmacies.
“[Amazon] is raising the stakes for local retail pharmacies,” Lis said in the press release.1
Approximately 66% of retail pharmacy customers have an Amazon Prime account, 48% know of Amazon’s pharmacy services, and 14% of those who know about Amazon Pharmacy use it to fill Pill Packs. According to the survey results, 38% of current Amazon Pharmacy consumers said they “definitely will” switch to Amazon Pharmacy within the next 12 months.1
“This is an opportunity for more retail pharmacies to innovate as a one-stop shop for routine care and to leverage data and technology to create an increasingly personalized customer experience,” Lis said in the press release.1
Current trends show that 59% of customers use their brick-and-mortar pharmacy’s mobile app to refill prescriptions. On a 1000-point scale, overall satisfaction was 715 among those who used the app more than 6 times throughout the year, a higher score compared to individuals who used it 5 times or less.1
The study also ranked different categories of pharmacies, with Good Neighbor Pharmacy ranked at number 1 (740 points) in best brick-and-mortar chain drug story pharmacy for the sixth year, followed by Health Mart (723) and Walgreens (660).1
For 7 years, Sam’s Club has ranked highest among brick-and-mortar mass merchandiser pharmacies (759), followed by Costco (749) and CVS Pharmacy inside Target (713).1 For a second consecutive year, H-E-B ranked number 1 in brick-and-mortar supermarket pharmacy (785), followed by Wegmans (754), and Publix (747) in third.1 Chief among mail order segments was Kaiser Permanente Pharmacy (734), then CenterWell (699)—formerly called Humana Pharmacy—which was closely followed by OptumRX (694).1
“In the future, we will see treatments and testing for other common diseases spill over to the pharmacy and allied health care providers, said Kevin Kavanagh, MD, founder of the patient advocacy group Health Watch USA, in the press release. “A1C monitoring for diabetes and home testing for MRSA carriers are examples.”2