HEALTH

J.D. Power and Associates’ pharmacy study addresses cost, customer service

BY Allison Cerra

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. J.D. Power and Associates’ release of its annual national pharmacy study on Wednesday underscored customers’ sensitivity to cost issues, despite out-of-pocket pharmacy costs virtually remaining unchanged from last year, the global marketing information services company said.

The study, which examined customer satsifaction rates in chain drug stores, mass merchandisers, supermarkets and mail-order pharmacies, found that cost competitiveness accounted for 24% of overall satisfaction among brick-and-mortar customers (versus 10% in 2009) and for 41% among mail-order customers (versus 19% in 2009).

J.D. Power and Associates did point out, however, that customer service did outweigh saving money among respondents.

Based on national average spending by pharmacy customers, a highly satisfied customer may generate $227 in additional prescription revenue each year, J.D. Power and Associates noted.

 

"Consumers are spending more on healthcare expenses in general due to various employer-implemented changes in insurance coverage. High-performing pharmacies aren’t necessarily those with the lowest prices. Rather, pharmacies that are focused on service garner the highest levels of satisfaction. Customer service still trumps price, even in an environment where cost has become increasingly important," said Jim Dougherty, director of the healthcare practice at J.D. Power and Associates.

 

The highest-ranked businesses included Good Neighbor Pharmacy (869-out-of-1,000 points) for the chain drug sector, Target pharmacies (848-out-of-1,000 points) for mass, Publix pharmacies (862-out-of-1,000 points) for supermarkets and Kaiser Permanente mail-order pharmacies (854-out-of-1,000 points).

The 2010 U.S. national pharmacy study was based on responses from more than 12,300 customers who filled a new prescription or refilled a prescription during the three months prior to the survey period. The study was fielded between May and June.

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ScriptPro becomes pharmacy automation systems provider for NIH

BY Alaric DeArment

MISSION, Kan. The National Institutes of Health has retained ScriptPro as a provider of pharmacy automation systems, ScriptPro said.

 

The NIH, based in Bethesda, Md., will use ScriptPro’s robotic dispensing, pharmacy management and drug information systems to assist in the internal control and identification of drugs and to enhance the safety and efficiency of medication dispensing and use by patients.

 

 

ScriptPro already provides pharmacy automation systems to the Veterans Health Administration, the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Defense, federal prisons and public health services, the company said.

 

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SIGIS updates Eligible Products List

BY Michael Johnsen

SAN RAMON, Calif. The Special Interest Group for IIAS Standards announced Wednesday that the group is making significant changes to its Eligible Products List — a list of over-the-counter products eligible for reimbursement under flexible spending accounts — in response to IRS guidance issued earlier this month.

That guidance, issued by the IRS in Notice 2010-59 in response to changes made by the Affordable Care Act, requires a doctor’s prescription for the reimbursement of over-the-counter drug and medicines from health plans and tax-advantaged healthcare accounts.

Based on this IRS guidance, the SIGIS Eligible Products List committee completed a thorough review of the list and determined that just more than 15,000 items are impacted and will need to be removed. Even after this significant reduction, more than 27,000 OTC items remain on the list for purchase without a prescription and through a Health Care Debit Card at SIGIS-certified merchants without the need for further substantiation. Items that continue to be eligible without a prescription include such items as insulin, medical devices (crutches, blood sugar monitors, etc.), bandages, contact lens solution and denture bond.

 

Though the IRS rule goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2011, SIGIS is releasing a summary of the edits to help SIGIS members begin to prepare for this significant change, the group noted. The detailed SIGIS Eligible Products List will be published on Dec. 15. In the guidance, the IRS granted transitional relief for IIAS merchants, so that IIAS merchants will actually have until Jan. 15, 2011, to update their systems to be compliant with the new guidance.

 

 

The following categories have been removed from the Eligible Products List to prevent them from being purchased at an IIAS merchant without a prescription. Categories no longer eligible without a prescription include:

  • Acid controllers;
  • Allergy and sinus medicine;
  • Antibiotics;
  • Antifiarrheals;
  • Antigas products;
  • Anti-itch and insect bite products;
  • Antiparasitic treatments;
  • Baby rash ointments/creams;
  • Cold sore remedies;
  • Cough-cold and flu products;
  • Digestive aids;
  • Feminine antifungal/anti-itch products;
  • Hemorrhoidal preps;
  • Laxatives;
  • Motion sickness products;
  • Pain relievers;
  • Respiratory treatments;
  • Sleep aids and sedatives; and
  • Stomach remedies.

 

 

SIGIS was formed to create a standard industry solution that could be both scaleable and broadly adoptable, while being consistent with IRS requirements. The group includes all stakeholders involved with the process, from pharmacy merchants through plan administrators.

 

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