NCPA Executive Update

NCPA Executive Update delivers insights on legislative, regulatory, policy, and industry developments from NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, Pharmacist, MBA, to NCPA members and pharmacy leaders every Friday.

J.D. Power + Your Pharmacy = Opportunity | NCPA Executive Update | September 8, 2017

by NCPA | Sep 08, 2017

Dear Colleague,

Doug Hoey

Are you an optimist or a pessimist?

If you’re not sure, here’s a quote that defines the difference: “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

I like to think I’m an optimist, and that’s the way I’m looking at the results from this year’s J.D. Power 2017 U.S. Pharmacy Study.

The annual J.D. Power survey once again showed independents receiving significantly higher satisfaction ratings than chains, but several grocery stores narrowly topped independents according to the survey. Scores for independent pharmacies were Good Neighbor Pharmacy (889), Health Mart (886), and Medicine Shoppe (879). As points of reference, the highest rated grocery store was Brookshire Grocery (894) while CVS (845), Walgreens (844) and Walmart (826) were markedly lower.

Now, there’s a temptation to look at these results and shrug them off with the following two conclusions: The first being that these recent J.D. Power results are yet another affirmation that when it comes to pharmacy customer service, there’s no comparison between an independent and a stand-alone or big box chain store; second, that despite the high aggregate score for independents, patients at your pharmacy prefer you 100 percent of the time.

While those conclusions might be true, the J.D. Power survey found other results that were less rosy for independents and for all pharmacies. In-store experience satisfaction dropped 14 points. We could assume that was due to the big chains causing the drop (Walgreens dropped 20 points from 2016 to this year) or use it as a wake-up call for independents. I suggest using it as an opportunity to attract more people into your pharmacy or to re-evaluate what you are currently doing to keep and broaden your appeal.

Another big notable from the J.D. Power survey was a significant decline in satisfaction with the cost of prescriptions — a 27-point fall from last year. That could be driven by all of the media attention around the cost of drugs and new awareness that the patients’ PBM is actually contributing to the higher cost of medications. Or, maybe the decline is driven by a higher awareness of the cost of prescriptions due to high deductible health plans. Either way, patients have prescription costs on their minds now more than they have in a long time. It’s a ripe environment for so-called “discount cards” and websites like GoodRx to proliferate. How is your pharmacy positioned when it comes to answering the cost question in the minds of your current and future patients?

Training your staff, keeping and attracting new patients, and developing new services that are paying off for other independents will be featured during this year’s NCPA Annual Convention October 14-18 in Orlando, Fla. Here are a few of those programs:

Most pharmacy consumer surveys focus on “fast, accurate, and cheap” and the J.D. Power Survey seems similar (how else to explain that the Veterans Administration mail order house is rated almost as highly as independents?). The health care systems’ demands for today’s pharmacy services are rapidly moving well past those measures and looking for pharmacies that can help manage the most complex (and costly) patients. That’s what CPESN (Community Pharmacy Enhanced Services Network) is about.

As superior customer service has been independent pharmacy’s calling card for so long, it would be easy to become complacent in this area. But in the face of so many competitive pressures, resting on our laurels is a mistake.

Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Look for the opportunities. There are plenty of them out there.

Doug Hoey