What is a “pharmacy” these days? You might have recently walked into a brick-and-mortar retail pharmacy. Or, you might have refilled a prescription to help you manage a chronic condition, online.

Or, perhaps, you asked the pharmacist staffing your favorite grocery store Rx counter to give you the latest vaccine to keep COVID-19 variants at-bay.

The pharmacy is all these things, and increasingly digital-first, we learn in The Rx Report: A new day in retail pharmacy, a consumer survey from CVS Health.

 

 

 

 

CVS Health, one of the two largest pharmacies operating in the U.S. in 2021 along with Walgreens, worked with Morning Consult to poll 2,210 U.S. adults online in mid-August 2022.

With 3 in 5 people visiting a pharmacy at least once a month, 74% said they trust their local pharmacist or pharmacy team. (More on the importance of trust in pharmacists in the Hot Points, below).

 

 

 

 

 

Pharmacists’ roles in consumers’ health care lives have evolved over time, as CVS Health notes from “pill dispenser” to “trusted health care provider.”

The second chart, pictured here from the report, tells us that most health consumers are aware that pharmacists can provide immunizations (79%), give tips for saving prescription drug costs (72%), counsel on therapeutic alternatives (69%), and educate on medical conditions (65%)

3 in 5 consumers also believe they would like to be able to receive more health services from their local pharmacy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Key to that demand is the convenience consumers perceive that’s baked into the retail pharmacy in terms of geography/location and accessibility. Millions of people received COVID-19 vaccinations from pharmacies in their communities, close to home, experiencing high levels of patient satisfaction.

Increasingly, technology is playing a role in patients’ relationships with pharmacies, whether for e-prescribed refills, apps enabling telehealth visits (including mental health therapy sessions), or live chats with licensed pharmacists for real-time advice.

As health/care goes omni-channel enabling patients-as-consumers to express their service demands across a platform of virtual and in-person front-doors, so the pharmacy will be embedded in these work- and life-flows. Welcome to the growing digitization of the consumer’s health-journey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Health Populi’s Hot Points;  Health citizens in the U.S. point to nurses, doctors, and pharmacists as the most honest and ethical professionals in America, shown here in Gallup’s latest poll on the topic.

Thee of the five least-honest/ethical jobs people told Gallup are state officeholders (legislators in U.S. state houses), members of Congress, and lobbyists.

It is ironic and very concerning to consider, in this context, the latest data on the outflow of health care professionals from the field, accelerating since the emergence of the pandemic in 2020.

By 2025, some 47% of healthcare workers plan to leave their positions by 2025, asserted in a report from Definitive Healthcare published in October 2022.

The American Pharmacists Association and the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations studied pharmacists’ and pharmacy personnel’s workplace issues and well-being at the end of 2021, finding that 75% of these workers lacked time and personnel to safely perform their duties. Major job stressors included increased demands, harassment and bully by patients and consumers, constant interruptions and calls to insurance companies, and adding services to their work-flows without adequate support to deliver them.

While omni-channel health care has so much promise in the abstract, ensuring that the fourth leg of the Quintuple Aim — provider well-being — stands up strong and positive to deliver on that promise. Pharmacists, like nurses and doctors, can’t only live and work on the basis of love and trust.

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