Introducing DSN Patient Views

BY Rob Eder

Can you feel that? 

It’s the seismic shift that currently is occurring in health care in this country. And really, it’s just a tremor. The intense stuff isn’t expected to hit until 2014.

That’s why we’re creating “Patient Views” (see page 6), a new department that will be featured Upfront in every issue of DSN and in every edition of our daily 
e-newsletter, DSN A.M.

But let me back up here. Let’s look at health reform for a second, and for once let’s not only focus on the 32 million Americans that will be formally introduced to the healthcare system. It also is projected that millions of Americans, who today have perfectly good insurance, will likely be dumped into the exchanges as well, as many employers do the math and figure it’s cheaper to cut benefits and just pay the penalty.

Beyond that, it also is expected that new plan designs will put increasingly more of the onus on the patient to think more like a consumer — to seek the least expensive options for care, or shoulder the extra cost themselves. This will create opportunities for nontraditional competitors to step in to create new, lower-cost alternatives, the likes of which we already have begun to see with retail clinics, expanded pharmacy services, urgent care and more.

In this environment, all providers are going to be measured and compensated by the quality of the care that they deliver. All of health care will become an outcomes-based business. It’s also going to set off a whole new wave of competition for the patient — and really a whole new dimension by which to compete.

This will create new opportunities for unique partnerships; the accountable care organization model will create teams of providers working in conjunction to improve patient outcomes. But there also will be competition to become a part of an ACO. Networks will continue to narrow. Is your company in or out?

For all of the opportunity that will be created for retail pharmacy and retail clinics, there is no denying that this business will become more complex than it has ever been.

That’s why we’re doing Patient Views. To thrive in this brave new age of “healthcare retailization,” you’re going to need to be able to see around corners. You need better information — as up-to-the-minute as you can get it — about what patients are thinking and how that impacts the way they utilize health care, and inevitably how they shop your stores, if they shop your stores and where your brands fit into their lives.

That’s why we have partnered with 
AccentHealth, whose extensive reach into physicians’ offices all across the country has created a panel of thousands of patients (see Q&A here). We can ask them anything we want. Patient Views is how you’re going to keep up with it all.

What do you want to know? If you could ask thousands of patients anything at all to help you see around the corners into the future of health care, what would you ask them? Email me at [email protected] and let me know.

Rob Eder is the editor in chief of The Drug Store News Group, publishers of Drug Store News, DSN Collaborative Care, and Specialty Pharmacy magazines. You can contact him at [email protected].



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Q&A: Point-of-care perspective


AccentHealth’s Andrew Schulman, VP marketing, recently sat down with DSN to talk about a new regular DSN feature debuting in this issue called “Patient Views,” and how this series of surveys can help inform pharmacy operators and healthcare suppliers alike.

DSN: What is AccentHealth, and why should retail pharmacy, pharmaceutical manufacturers and consumer packaged goods companies pay attention?

Andrew Schulman: AccentHealth has been in the point-of-care space [with a health education TV network] for the last 17 years. We are the leader of patient education in that space. We have a programming partnership with CNN, so what you’re seeing is targeted and exclusive health-and-wellness programming in the doctor’s office. That provides us a very unique opportunity to engage patients … at the point of care. … Because we have a viewer panel of over 3,000 respondents, we’re able to engage them to get some insights, see what’s working [and] what isn’t working for the retail pharmacy. For CPG, that’s another access point for us where we can engage the chief medical officer of the home, who of course is Mom.

DSN: What is “Patient Views,” and how will it work?

Schulman: We felt that if we could provide that deeper research at the point of care with this consumer group — we have 173 million Nielsen-verified viewers every year — that’s a pretty good swatch of America when it comes to how do we look into their lifestyle, whether it’s consumer behaviors, whether it’s trends. What we’re hoping to gain from this partnership is to offer a solution or service to the pharmacy executive. … What’s the pulse of this consumer, right now? And be able to get that response in a very quick [turnaround]. We provide that kind of [behind-the-scenes] access to what I’ll call ‘pharmacy trend-spotting.’ Is it working? We’ve seen a lot of different types of strategies when it comes to engaging the pharmacy customer. … The last piece of it, because of the timeliness of it, checks the pulse of the nation and the national conversation around health and wellness as a whole. There’s a lot of change and a lot of decisions that are happening at very high levels of government that may affect some very personal decisions.

DSN: How will this be made actionable? 

Schulman: We’re going to do two to three different surveys from now until the end of the year. With DSN’s editorial staff crafting those questions, I think you’re going to see a lot of different types of insights. That actionable item is really around what’s working and what isn’t. Surprises. Trends. What’s going on with consumer behavior. Here’s one [line of questioning]: Is there greater value to having the pharmacist out in the aisles versus not, and do consumers think that’s important? We add an extra layer of reinforcement and qualification of retail pharmacy strategies, or a way to engage that customer in a new and different way.


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Pharmacists’ value recognized, underutilized

BY Michael Johnsen

Almost 2-in-3 patients reported that the individual pharmacist plays a key role in which pharmacy they choose, but less than one-third of patients tap into that accessible health resource on a regular basis, according to an exclusive survey conducted by AccentHealth and DSN. 

For the full report, click here.

“This is perception versus reality,” said Natalie Hill, VP market research at AccentHealth. “People are saying, ‘Yes, the pharmacist plays a role in my decision-making as far as pharmacy selection; and yes, I think they’re a valuable, trained resource and they’re accessible,’” Hill said. “[But] very few are actually reporting that they’re utilizing the pharmacist as a resource regularly.” 

Patients patronizing independent pharmacies were most likely to interact with their pharmacist — 52% reported often interacting. As many as 31% interacted with their pharmacists in the grocery setting. One-in-4 patients often consulted a pharmacist in the chain drug setting, and 22% often spoke with their mass merchant pharmacist.

Almost 80% of consumers indicated that their pharmacist was readily accessible and always available. 

The findings are the first to come out of a new content partnership between The Drug Store News Group and AccentHealth, which will create a new Upfront department called “Patient Views,” which will appear in every issue of DSN and the daily electronic newsletter, DSN A.M. In the first Patient Views report, DSN and AccentHealth examined pharmacy preferences and utilization, and how patients choose.

Nine-in-10 patients have a preferred pharmacy, though as many as 34% utilize more than one pharmacy to fill prescriptions, including mail order. Overall, convenience and price were the top two reasons patients used multiple pharmacies, with 63% identifying location or convenience as the reason they use more than one pharmacy and 46% citing price. Only 8% noted mail order as the reason for frequenting multiple pharmacies. 

Only 14% of patients reported that their insurance plans curtailed their choice of pharmacy, with 84% of that subgroup having to select a pharmacy from a limited network and 16% being forced into mail order. However, out of that total subgroup, 76% were still satisfied with their pharmacy choices. 

As many as 73% of respondents reported they were very satisfied with their primary pharmacy. Though despite high levels of patient satisfaction with their pharmacy, consumers reported they would switch pharmacies for greater savings if co-pays at their home pharmacy were to rise; as many as 58% would seek to switch to realize savings of less than $10. Only 15% reported they would not switch — regardless of the cost savings. 

AccentHealth panel participants are heavier pharmacy users than the general population, filling 63% more prescriptions annually than the average patient. In addition, AccentHealth panel participants visit their pharmacies more often than the general population, with 66% more pharmacy visits per year on average.

The online survey fielded responses between July 19 and Aug. 1 from 745 pharmacy patients who opted in to be part of AccentHealth’s consumer panel of 4,000 patients and growing. Respondents represent a national sample across 40 states, with the heaviest concentrations of respondents coming from California, Georgia, Florida, Texas and North Carolina. Participants skewed 85% female — 73% of AccentHealth’s overall network is female — and the mean age was 40.7 years. Almost 9-in-10 participants reported having health insurance coverage.



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