AmerisourceBergen surveys the full range of pharmacy businesses

Most pharmacists want more time to counsel patients; most are concerned with drug reimbursement issues

Tagged as the inaugural Pharmacy Check-Up: Activity & Barriers to Care Analysis, the survey compares pharmacists’ current and hoped-for future activities across the full range of pharmacy types: chain, independent, hospital and specialty. ABC is in an interesting position to take this perspective: the company, No. 2 in US pharma wholesaling, serves chains (primarily through its relationship with Walgreens), independents and hospitals, and is both a provider and a pharmacy operator to specialty pharmacy. For pharma manufacturers contemplating the distribution channels they use (especially for specialty products), variations among pharmacist practices can be critical.

Based on responses from some 250 pharmacists (mostly pharmacy directors or managers), many of the results confirm the conventional views of pharmacy business: chain pharmacists spend the largest proportion of their time filling prescriptions (38%, versus 16% for specialty and the others in between); hospital pharmacists have the highest proportion of their time (among the pharmacy types) communicating with HCPs (13%, versus 6% for chain, with the others falling in between).

Surprisingly, though, all four groups are roughly on par with the time spent counseling patients—11% for specialty, down to 8% for independent pharmacists (who are supposed to excel at patient interaction). Along the same lines, 11% of specialty pharmacists’ time is spent “helping patients with challenges” while the three other groups spend about 4% of their time. And independent pharmacists only spend one percentage point more of their time (3%, versus 2% for the other groups) on “front-end store management” (hard to say what front end there is for hospital pharmacists at all). Hospital pharmacists (likely tied into hospital electronic health-record [EHR] systems) spend the most time of the four on data reporting (9%, with chain pharmacists at 2% and the others falling between).

Across the board, all four groups of pharmacists look on reimbursement issues as a leading barrier to care, ranging from 49% of hospital pharmacists to 65% of chain pharmacists. Conversely, 65% of specialty pharmacists consider “contracting with payers” as a significant barrier to care, while only 41% of chain pharmacists feel so. To overcome all types of barriers, all pharmacists rank “building relationships with prescribers” highly; 85% of specialty pharmacists rank “data sharing” as a beneficial activity.

The survey was conducted in late summer by a third party firm, Maru/Matchbox, which says that the results were tested to a 95% confidence level. It is downloadable here.