More than half of patients would visit retail pharmacy first for medical issues

Driven by a desire for more convenient and affordable care, many patients focusing less on provider qualifications when seeking ambulatory care, according to a new Wolters Kluwer survey, which shows 58% of them opting first for retail options as pharmacists shifting to address consumer needs.


The second Wolters Kluwer “Pharmacy Next: Consumer Care and Cost Trends” survey polled more than 1,000 U.S. adults aged 18 and older and weighted by age, gender, household income and education to be representative of the total population, generational trends are driving how consumers shop for their care.

A generational divide revealed more Gen Z and Millennials (56% and 54%, respectively) have visited a local pharmacy to receive care in the past year than their Gen X (40%) and Baby Boomer (35%) counterparts, according to the report, released today.

Dr. Peter Bonis, chief medical officer of Wolters Kluwer Health, said the “one doctor-one patient, single point of primary care coordination is vanishing” – especially for younger generations – in a statement.

“When asked what’s most important in a non-emergency situation, one in three Americans (33%) said convenience over the credentials and/or qualifications of the person providing their care,” the company said. “Less than one quarter (23%) of Boomers agreed.”

The study found that 81% of those surveyed say they “trust a pharmacist, nurse or nurse practitioner to diagnose minor illnesses and prescribe medications to treat them.”

Meanwhile, 79% of those surveyed placed higher stock in retail pharmacies than in department stores for care. The study also found the preference for vaccinations varied across more general age groups. 

While more than half of Americans would go to a traditional physician’s office only for children’s vaccinations for children, more than three in five (62%) would go to a local pharmacy for adult flu shots and other vaccines.

For prescription medications, 67% said they prefer mail-order or subscription services – like Amazon Pharmacy – for lower-cost medications. 

However, more than half were concerned about the potential tampering of mail-order drugs (54%) and unexpected drug interactions with other medications they are taking (52%).

The survey was conducted online between March 15-21.


Earlier this year, the American Hospital Association Center for Health Innovation also looked at how retail companies and tech giants will drive transformational change in healthcare delivery.

“As these companies execute their respective strategies, they all share some common aspirational goals in contributing to the delivery of care that is easier to access, coordinated and affordable,” AHA said in its Healthcare Disruption: 2023 Outlook.

While AHA said retail disruptors have big strategy questions to face, Enam Noor, CEO and founder of Insightin Health, advised traditional healthcare providers to adopt a retail mindset to drive consumer behaviors.

“Turning the experience around the consumer-centric approach is a must and we can learn from a lot of the other industries how they have adopted and have delivered that,” Noor told Healthcare IT News in December.

Digital maturity models can help providers with workforces and financial resources stretched thin. 

HIMSS recently launched its Community Care Outcomes Maturity Model to focus on non-acute care delivery in non-traditional community care settings and improve health equity. 

A modernized version of the Outpatient Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model, which measured the digital maturity of outpatient clinics, C-COMM measures the digital maturity of care delivery across all community-based environments – from primary care and virtual care to maternal and mental health, according to the organization.

“C-COMM is an important addition to the HIMSS Analytics suite of digital transformation maturity models, and a critical success factor for health systems to provide consumer-friendly, convenient, digitally connected access to healthcare services, with improved patient engagement and experience, at home or in our communities,” said Toni Laracuente, HIMSS senior vice president and global head of analytics, in the announcement.

The Los Angeles LGBT Center is using the C-COMM to help shape its approach to health equity and extend its services outside the walls of the health center, Gabriel Garcia-Lopez, the center’s health information systems director, told HIMSSTV in a conversation about community-focused care.


“By preparing for this shift today, providers can work in concert across care sites to deliver the best care to patients,” said Wolters Kluwer’s Bonis in announcing its new report. “Likewise, newer care delivery models, like retail pharmacies and clinics, can ensure they’re ready to meet the expectations of healthcare consumers, who will increasingly be turning to them for a growing range of care needs.” 

Andrea Fox is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Email: [email protected]

Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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