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Employees Seek Better Pharmacy Services

Mail-order pharmacy programs promise savings and convenience for employees, but some workers are starting to miss the face-to-face time with their local pharmacist, a new report suggests.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2012 U.S. Pharmacy Study finds that overall satisfaction for mail-order pharmacies dipped to 792 (on a 1,000-point scale) in 2012, a decrease from 806 last year.

The study found that consumer satisfaction levels among mail-order pharmacies dropped in cost competitiveness, delivery, ordering and customer service.

Although satisfaction levels for brick-and-mortar pharmacies also dropped, the data suggest that the appeal of mail-order prescription services is diminishing.

“Acceptance of mail-order programs grew by offering customers convenience and lower costs,” said Rick Millard of J.D. Power and Associates in the company’s press release. “While this has been a successful approach, the mail-order business needs to continue to adapt and meet customers’ increasing needs.”

Customer service has increasingly become an advantage for brick-and-mortar pharmacies, Millard said. “The pharmacist is at the heart of that service,” he added.

The survey notes that mail-order pharmacies can still save time and money if they’re the right fit. J.D. Power offers a few tips for employers and employees to maximize their drug benefits, including:

  • Do your homework: Check the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy for a list of reputable sources before selecting a mail-order or brick-and-mortar vendor
  • When in doubt, ask: Don’t hesitate to get information from a pharmacist if a question arises about a drug
  • Go generic:Encourage employees to ask their doctor for generic alternatives.

Generics have proven to be an especially powerful driver of savings, according to a separate report by the Generic Pharmaceutical Association (GPhA). The research, reported in Employee Benefit News, notes that savings from generic drugs equals about $1 billion every two days in the U.S. — totaling $193 billion in 2011.

The majority of generic savings (57 percent) stems from nervous system and cardiovascular drugs, the study found.