Mail Order Pharmacy – Good or Bad (Two Surveys)

I love when two parties (both with their own agenda) publish data that clearly shows that they are right.  Now, in this case, one quotes a 3rd party so I do give them more credibility.  And, the other (as I will show below) seems to not take the patient’s responsibility in mind.

First, PCMA (Pharmaceutical Care Management Association) publishes research from JD Power on pharmacy satisfaction.  It shows that insured and non-insured patients are generally satisfied with their pharmacy experience.  Mail order clearly came out on top of all types of pharmacies.  (Given that only 12% of people know the name of their pharmacist, I would expect them to be more closely clustered together.)

The J.D. Power and Associates study measured customer satisfaction with the pharmacy experience across major national retail drug store chains, mass merchandisers and supermarket stores, and mail-order channels. The study examines seven factors that contribute to consumer satisfaction with brick-and-mortar pharmacies and five factors that determine satisfaction with mail-order pharmacies. The average overall satisfaction index for each of the pharmacy distribution channels were:

  • Mail-order pharmacies: 834
  • Supermarket pharmacies: 820
  • Mass merchandiser pharmacies: 801
  • Retail chain pharmacies: 798

Then (no big surprise here) NCPA (National Community Pharmacy Association) puts out a survey of 400 patients showing how dissatisfied they are with mail order.

  • They are unhappy being forced to use a lower cost pharmacy.  (GVA – get used to it as part of healthcare reform)
  • They complain that their prescriptions don’t arrive on time (which could impact adherence).  (GVA – did they call in time or wait for the last minute…were they adherent to begin with)
  • They complain about their medications changing (i.e., titrating to a different strength).  (GVA – they shouldn’t move to mail until they’ve stabilized and any mandatory plan I’ve ever seen required at least 2 months as the same strength before requiring movement to mail)
  • They complain about getting different medications than what they ordered.  (GVA – I bet most of that was people getting the chemically equivalent generic.)

This isn’t something that will easily get solved.  The FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) out there rules in many cases and statistical anomolies are what get discussed.  I would love to compare complaint rates, error rates, and satisfaction for patients that use both channels (retail and mail).


  1. Mail Order Prescriptions Dropped 9.2% – WOW! | Enabling Healthy Decisions - June 17, 2014

    […] Retail satisfaction seems to beat mail order satisfaction based on different studies, but at the same time, there are studies showing the exact opposite. […]

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