Historically, pharmacies have seen very positive results when it comes to customer satisfaction and customer engagement, but a new study shows a declining pattern.

According to the J.D. Power 2017 U.S. Pharmacy Study, decreases in satisfaction with both brick-and-mortar and mail-order pharmacies are driven primarily by declines in satisfaction with cost.

“Pharmacies have historically earned very high marks for customer satisfaction, so any significant year-over-year decline is cause for closer investigation,” said Rick Johnson, director of the healthcare practice at J.D. Power. “Consumer concerns about rising drug prices have likely affected perceptions of the cost of their retail prescriptions. The decrease in satisfaction with cost is the primary drag on overall customer satisfaction, creating a serious challenge for retailers.”

Here are some of the study’s key findings:

The decline in customer satisfaction driven by cost: Decreases in satisfaction with brick-and-mortar pharmacies are driven by year-over-year declines in satisfaction with cost, which falls 27 index points to 789 (on a 1,000-point scale), and the in-store experience, a 14-point drop to 851. Decreases in satisfaction with mail order pharmacies are driven by declines in satisfaction with cost (-49 to 787) and the prescription ordering process (-15 to 877).

Drug adherence highest with mail order, lowest at specialty pharmacy: This year's study measures drug adherence levels across the different pharmacy channels for the first time, and finds that 79 percent of customers who fill their prescriptions through a brick-and-mortar pharmacy say they always adhere to their medications. This compares with 84 percent of mail-order customers and 74 percent of specialty pharmacy customers. Customers who discuss a prescription with a pharmacist in a brick-and-mortar pharmacy at the time of pick-up have the highest overall levels of adherence.

New segment: New to the U.S. Pharmacy Study is the specialty segment. Specialty drugs often require special handling, might be infused and can cost significantly more than non-specialty prescriptions.

Supermarkets have highest overall satisfaction among pharmacy channels: Among all channels studied, supermarkets have the highest levels of overall customer satisfaction (859), followed by mail order (853); hospital or clinic (851); chain drug stores (849); specialty pharmacy (842); and mass merchandisers (839).

Study Rankings:

Good Neighbor Pharmacy ranks highest overall among brick-and-mortar chain drug stores with a score of 889. Health Mart (886) ranks second and The Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy ranks third (879).

Sam’s Club ranks highest overall among brick-and-mortar mass merchandisers with a score of 874. Fred's (873) ranks second and Costco (875) ranks third. While CVS Pharmacy at Target placed fifth this year, it had the largest increase in satisfaction of any pharmacy from 2016 (+20).

Brookshire Grocery Co. ranks highest overall among brick-and-mortar supermarkets with a score of 894. H-E-B (893) ranks second and BI-LO (891) ranks third.

Kaiser Permanente Pharmacy ranks highest overall in mail order (884). Humana Pharmacy (871) ranks second and Walmart Pharmacy Mail Services (864) ranks third.

Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy ranks highest among specialty pharmacies with a score of 853. BriovaRx (851) ranks second and CVS Specialty/CVS Caremark (840) ranks third.

Now in its ninth year, the U.S. Pharmacy Study measures customer satisfaction with brick-and-mortar, mail-order, and specialty pharmacies. The 2017 study is based on responses from 17,326 pharmacy customers who filled a new prescription or refilled a prescription during the three months prior to the survey period of May-June 2017.

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