Spoiler alert: If you have not already seen the results of the most recent J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Pharmacy Study and don't want to know which group of pharmacies was the highest rated brick-and-mortar standalone pharmacy, avert your eyes. This year's winner was a group of independent pharmacies. That's the same outcome as the year before. And, the year before that. And, the year before that. And, the year ... well, you get the picture. Consumer satisfaction with independent pharmacies is just part of the story, though.
The J.D. Power Study as well as Consumer Reports consumer surveys of pharmacies are good reminders that independently owned pharmacies continue to lead the pack in pleasing consumers. A cynic might say, "Yeah, that and five bucks will buy you a cup of coffee at Starbucks," but there is value in having a brand that consumers prefer. After all, the customer is always right—at least eventually.
Stellar service and personal relationships are a couple of the reasons that independently owned pharmacies are consistently ranked at the top by consumers, but the value of these small businesses goes deeper than that. NCPA documents the ways in which community pharmacy owners and their employees give back to their communities in the form of time and treasure. Those are powerful contributions back to the community, but the giving does not stop there. The services that independently owned pharmacies provide are customized for their communities.
Dan Bosley, a pharmacy owner in Keeseville, N.Y. is one example. In Keeseville, the local grocery store closed in 2013, making it a 20-minute drive to the next closest grocery store. Dan agreed to allow his pharmacy, which locals affectionately call the "Farmacy," to be a site for local, fresh food. "'Farmacy' is hands down the most invigorating thing I have done in the pharmacy/pharmacy owner world in the past 15 years," Bosley said. (More on the "Farmacy" in an upcoming issue of America's Pharmacist®.)
At a time when 23.5 million people live in a "food desert," and nearly 8 percent of Americans 60 and older were "food insecure" in 2017, according to a recent study released by the anti-hunger group, Feeding America, Keeseville Pharmacy is doing its part to help its community.
There are many niche services that community pharmacies provide for patients. You probably have one in your pharmacy. At the NCPA Annual Convention in San Diego at the end of October, several programs are dedicated to developing niche services, including the education sessions, Take 5!, which will discuss niches on Tuesday, Oct. 29, and Quick Consults, which will be held in the Exhibit Hall Sunday and Monday.
Services that benefit the community abound in community pharmacies. I mentioned a spoiler alert earlier. Good Neighbor Pharmacy was the top scoring group of standalone pharmacies earning 914 out of 1,000 points in the J.D. Power Study. High scores are nice. But it's catering to the needs of their communities that make community pharmacies indispensable to the patients they serve.