Patients have been very satisfied with their pharmacies for four years running, and the vast majority will continue filling prescriptions at their current pharmacy.


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Rx patients aim to stick with current pharmacy

May 31st, 2013

NEW YORK – Patients have been very satisfied with their pharmacies for four years running, and the vast majority will continue filling prescriptions at their current pharmacy.

Those are among the most significant findings of Boehringer Ingelheim’s Pharmacy Satisfaction Pulse Survey, an online poll of 34,424 adult pharmacy customers that was conducted in October and November of 2012. All survey participants had filled six or more prescriptions (including refills) within the 12 months preceding the poll.

More than four in five (84%) customers are very likely to continue filling scripts at their primary pharmacy, the survey found. That figure was up one point from last year’s report and unchanged from the 2011 study. Those most inclined to stay with their current pharmacy are patrons of independent drug stores (89%) and clinics (also 89%).

Just slightly less likely to stay with their primary pharmacies were customers of supermarkets (86%), mass merchandisers (84%), mail order/online (83%) and drug chains (82%).

Likelihood of Customers to Keep Filling Scripts at Primary Pharmacy

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When those respondents who say they are “somewhat likely” to stay loyal to their current pharmacy are added in, the projected customer retention rates grow to 94% overall; 96% for independents; 95% for food stores, clinics and drug chains; 94% for discounters; and 93% for mail order/online.

Asked about the likelihood of recommending their pharmacy, 55% are very likely to do so and 20% are somewhat likely. Eighteen percent are neutral, 3% are somewhat unlikely and 5% are very unlikely.

Independents are viewed most favorably, with nearly three-quarters of respondents (73%) very likely to recommend them and 13% somewhat likely. More than two-thirds of supermarket pharmacy customers (64%) are very likely to recommend them and 20% are somewhat likely.

More than three in five mass merchant pharmacy customers (64%) are very likely to recommend them and 20% are somewhat likely. More than half of chain drug pharmacy customers (56%) are very likely to recommend them and 23% are somewhat likely.

But less than half of clinic pharmacy customers (46%) are very likely to recommend them, as are less than four in 10 (36%) mail-order/online customers.

The executive summary accompanying the survey emphasizes that “customer conversion will require effort.” That pronouncement is timely in the aftermath of the impasse between Walgreen Co. and Express Scripts Inc. (ESi), which forced pharmacy customers to temporarily — if not permanently — abandon the chain to fill their scripts.

CVS Caremark Corp. president and chief executive officer Larry Merlo says the company’s goal is to retain at least three-fifths of scripts gained during the impasse. “We are pleased with our [retention] results, which are exceeding our expectations,” Merlo said last month during a conference call discussing CVS Caremark’s first quarter. “In fact, our retention rate has not changed much for the past several months, so at this point we believe we have essentially achieved our steady-state retention rate. And we remain very confident that we will continue to retain at least 60% of the scripts in 2013.”

Likewise John Standley, chairman, president and CEO of Rite Aid Corp., noted this spring that the chain has held on to substantial numbers of former Walgreens customers. Early in its last fiscal year Rite Aid acquired “more than our fair share of new patients” during the dispute, he said. “Our teams have done an excellent job of providing great service to our new ESI patients and, as a result, we have retained a large number of these prescriptions,” he said during a conference call discussing the chain’s fourth quarter.

For his part, Walgreens president and CEO Greg Wasson said in March that with its multiyear contract with ESI the chain in its second quarter “saw an increasing percentage of those patients returning to us.”

The Boehringer Ingelheim executive summary also notes that pharmacies of all types rank high in several performance areas. They are credited with exceptional strength at correctly filling prescriptions, which the summary says is a “foundational ­attribute.”

They also get plaudits for the convenience of short wait times, which the summary notes correlates highly with customer satisfaction.

Patients See Pharmacy
In More Positive Light

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And pharmacists are highly regarded as medication counselors. “Customers are satisfied with staff’s ability to answer questions in order to help them take medications correctly,” the summary says. Patients expect that they will have help with insurance needs and that their concerns will be addressed.

Boehr­in­ger Ingelheim's Pharmacy Pulse Satisfaction Survey also indicates that community pharmacy is winning the opinion war.

More than one-fifth of customers’ opinions about prescription counters are more positive than they were a year ago.

Overall, 22% of customers said their opinion of their pharmacy had improved, 64% said it had stayed the same, and 6% said it had worsened. (Eight percent had used their pharmacy for less than a year).

Those most favorably impressed compared to 12 months earlier were patients at clinic pharmacies (29%), independents (26%) and chain drug stores (25%). More than a fifth of supermarket (22%) and mass merchandise (21%) customers had a higher opinion of their pharmacies than a year earlier. When it came to mail order/online, only 13% had an improved opinion, while 7% had a poorer opinion.

Most customers of all pharmacy types said their impressions were unchanged. That held true for 72% of mail order/online customers, 64% of mass merchandiser and supermarket customers, 61% of independent and chain drug store customers, and 59% of clinic customers.

Three percent of clinic and independent customers had a worse opinion of their pharmacies than they did a year earlier, as did 4% of supermarket customers and 6% of discount store and chain drug customers.

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