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Study: Pharmacy customers expect shorter wait times, more services

BY Alaric DeArment

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. — Customers have higher expectations of shorter wait times and expect more from the pharmacist and pharmacy staff, according to a new survey released Tuesday by J.D. Power and Associates.

The market research firm surveyed more than 12,300 consumers who filled a new prescription or refilled a prescription during the three months before the 2011 National Pharmacy Study was fielded, between May and June. The study, now in its fifth year, found that among chain drug store customers who waited an average of less than three minutes to give their prescription information to pharmacy staff, satisfaction averaged 836 on a 1,000-point scale, but declined to 783 among those who have to wait more than three minutes. By contrast, last year, the window was seven minutes.

Meanwhile, supermarket pharmacies ranked higher than chain drug stores, at 826, compared with 808 for the latter. Mass merchandisers ranked the lowest, at 797, but performed well in terms of cost competitiveness.

"Customers are expecting more from their brick-and-mortar pharmacy — not just in terms of wait time, but also in terms of contact with the pharmacist and pharmacy staff," J.D. Power senior director of the healthcare practice Rick Millard said. "In fact, brick-and-mortar pharmacies are able to better differentiate themselves by offering additional services from the pharmacy staff. These personal contacts may help distinguish the store experience as satisfying for pharmacy customers."

Millard said customers at pharmacies could benefit from talking with their pharmacist in a private area, signing up for automatic refills and using pharmacies for things like health testing and wellness services.

While fewer customers using mail-order pharmacies said they would switch to getting their prescriptions through retailers, overall satisfaction with mail-order pharmacies has declined since 2010. Customers required by insurance providers to use mail order for maintenance and repeat prescriptions rated their satisfaction at 771, compared with 836 for those not required to use mail order; but those using mail-order pharmacy show greater satisfaction when they can request free overnight delivery.

"In an era when online retailers like Amazon and Zappos have set new standards for speed and convenience, customers are looking for more efficiency in their pharmacy transactions as well," Millard said. "There’s a clear opportunity for mail-order pharmacies to improve on the logistical aspects of the transaction."

The study also ranked the top chains according to segment. Among chain drug stores, Good Neighbor Pharmacy and Health Mart ranked at 851, followed by The Medicine Shoppe at 831. Target led mass merchandisers, with a score of 846, followed by 837 for Sam’s Club and 834 for Costco. Among supermarkets, Publix had the highest score, 867, while Wegmans had 848 and Winn-Dixie had 834. Kaiser Permanente had the highest score among mail-order pharmacies, 848, followed by Humana RightSourceRx’s 840 and 813 for Express Scripts.

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Rite Aid Foundation donates $15K, filtration masks to American Red Cross for Tropical Storm Lee relief efforts

BY Allison Cerra

CAMP HILL, Pa. — Rite Aid announced Tuesday that its charitable arm has donated funds and filtration masks to the American Red Cross to benefit ongoing relief and recovery efforts in communities across south central Pennsylvania that were affected by Tropical Storm Lee.

The Rite Aid Foundation donated $15,000 to the south central Pennsylvania region of the American Red Cross, in addition to 10,000 filtration masks, as requested by the American Red Cross.

Rite Aid operates 71 pharmacies and employs more than 4,370 people in south central Pennsylvania.

“While the flooding caused by Tropical Storm Lee changed the lives of many Pennsylvanians in a matter of minutes, the cleanup and recovery process will take much longer,” Rite Aid Foundation president Mary Sammons said. “We are proud to partner with the American Red Cross and hope our donation will help meet the needs of our neighbors in south central Pennsylvania as they continue to rebuild and recover from the devastating flooding in the months to come.”

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Clif Bar introduces peppermint stick flavor

BY Allison Cerra

EMERYVILLE, Calif. — Clif Bar is gearing up for the holiday season with a new limited-edition flavor.

Peppermint stick joins spiced pumpkin pie and iced gingerbread limited-edition flavors, Clif Bar said. All three flavors are available nationwide (while supplies last) for a suggested retail price of $1.39.

In line with the launch of the new limited-edition peppermint stick flavor, Clif Bar will donate 1% of net sales from the holiday-inspired flavors to Winter Wildlands Alliance, the first and only national organization that works on behalf of skiers, snowboarders, snowshoers, winter hikers and other outdoor adventurers to address national issues that impact our winter wildlands, the company said.

“Like the first winter hike or that first morning run on fresh powder, the arrival of Clif Bar’s seasonal flavors is something Clif fans tell us they look forward to all year,” Clif Bar brand director Carly Lutz said. “It’s great knowing that we’re providing people with sound nutrition and sustained energy in nostalgic flavors, while contributing to protecting the places they play through our partnership with Winter Wildlands Alliance.”

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