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Health Mart finishes No. 1 in pharmacy customer survey

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Health Mart ranked first among chain drug retailers in terms of customer satisfaction in a J.D. Power and Associates nationwide pharmacy study.

The survey, which polled more than 12,000 customers, also examined supermarket, discount store and warehouse club pharmacies as well as mail order. Among the key findings, highly satisfied customers show a strong degree of loyalty to a particular pharmacy and are likely to recommend it to others.

NEW YORK — Health Mart ranked first among chain drug retailers in terms of customer satisfaction in a J.D. Power and Associates pharmacy study.

The marketing firm’s 2009 National Pharmacy Study, the results of which were announced Thursday, measures customer satisfaction with pharmacies according to seven factors: pharmacists, non-pharmacist staff, store convenience, medication availability and information, store layout and design, cost competitiveness and remote ordering convenience.

Conducted in May and June, the Web-based survey reflects the responses of 12,215 customers who filled a new prescription or refilled a prescription during the previous three months, J.D. Power said. The study examined two pharmacy segments — brick-and-mortar stores (chain drug, mass merchandisers and supermarkets) and mail order — and rated them based on a 1,000-point scale.

Among drug chains, Health Mart finished first with a score of 864, followed by Medicine Shoppe at 857. Of the nation’s biggest drug chains, CVS came in at 794, Walgreens scored 790 and Rite Aid had a 783 score. Regional chains Duane Reade and Longs Drug Stores (now part of CVS) scored 710 and 758, respectively. The average score among drug chains was 798, according to J.D. Power.

Health Mart, a unit of pharmaceuticals distributor McKesson Corp., got particularly high marks from consumers in terms of store convenience, pharmacist and non-pharmacist staff, medication availability and information, and remote ordering convenience. The chain encompasses a network of more than 2,300 independently owned pharmacies in 50 states.

"By providing our franchisees with access to advanced technology and best-in-class clinical and retail support, Health Mart pharmacists have the time and resources they need to develop relationships with their patients and counsel them on their individual health care needs," Health Mart president Tim Canning said in a statement Thursday on the J.D. Power ranking.

However, the highest overall score in the brick-and-mortar category was in the supermarket pharmacy segment, where Wegmans Food Stores came in at 865.

Rounding out the top 10 were Winn-Dixie (860), Publix (855), Hy-Vee (853), Albertsons (830), Ralphs (821), Safeway (819), Hannaford (816), Stop & Shop (815) and Kroger (813). The average score among food/drug chains was 820.

In the mass merchandiser segment, discount chain Target finished No. 1 for the third straight year, with a score of 831, J.D. Power said. Next came warehouse clubs Costco (818) and Sam’s Club (813) and then discounters Kmart (809) and Wal-Mart (787). Mass merchandisers posted an average score of 801.

The study also found that customers with higher satisfaction scores are financially beneficial to their pharmacies through increased rates of loyalty and advocacy as well as higher revenue per visit.

Highly satisfied customers (satisfaction scores of 901 or higher) are three times more likely to say they "definitely will" return to their pharmacy and are at least seven times more likely to say they "definitely will" recommend their pharmacy, compared with customers with low satisfaction (scores of 550 or lower), J.D. Power reported.

"Pharmacies have an opportunity to grow their business and better position themselves for the future by improving satisfaction levels among their customers," explained Jim Dougherty, executive director of the health care practice at J.D. Power. "For example, a highly satisfied brick-and-mortar customer generates $30 more in pharmacy revenue per visit than a customer with low satisfaction, on average. For a pharmacy with 1,000 customers each month, this translates into an additional $360,000 in revenue annually."

On the mail-order pharmacy side, Kaiser Permanente Pharmacy ranked at the top with a score of 877. Rounding out the top 10 were Prescription Solutions (876), Humana RightSourceRx (861), Express Scripts (831), Medco (828), Prime Therapeutics (825), Caremark Mail Service (815), Cigna Tel-Drug (808), Walgreens Mail Service (799) and Wal-Mart Pharmacy Mail Services (782). The average score for mail order was 834.

In addition, the study found that pharmacy satisfaction among customers with prescription drug coverage averages 818, and satisfaction among those without coverage is 792. Among mail-order customers 65 years of age or older with private prescription drug coverage, satisfaction with their pharmacy experience averages 844. In comparison, pharmacy satisfaction among mail-order customers in the same age group with Medicare Part D coverage averages about the same.

Dougherty noted that the findings give some context to still-brewing national debate on health care reform.

"The study’s mail-order pharmacy segment provides a valuable comparison opportunity for examining customer satisfaction with private and public-private insurance plans," he stated. "When controlled for education, tenure with the pharmacy, total out-of-pocket costs, type of medication and mail-order pharmacy brand, the study finds that customers are equally as satisfied with their pharmacy experience whether they are in a publicly funded program, such as the Department of Veterans Affairs pharmacy plan; a public-private program, like Medicare Part D; or a private insurance option."


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