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.
Pharmacists’ value recognized, underutilized
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.
Patient Views – August/September Methodology
AccentHealth collected data through an online survey conducted from July 19 to Aug. 1, 2012. There were a total of 745 respondents who were recruited via AccentHealth’s national, online panel of network viewers ages 18 years and up who opt-in to participate in reasearch with AccentHealth. Below is the demographic breakdown of those respondents and their behavior:
Number of annual pharmacy visits
Number of annual prescription fills
Health insurance coverage
Geographic distribution of sample