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CVS Health report highlights opportunities for the future of community pharmacy

A CVS Health/Harris Poll survey reveals 84% of consumers say pharmacists play a critical role in providing healthcare services to patients.

CVS Health released "The Rx Report: The future of community pharmacy opens doors to healthier communities," which outlines the evolution of consumers' expectations of community pharmacy and how local pharmacies continue to add value to the healthcare system, especially for vulnerable populations, to help close gaps in care.

The report also highlights the critical need for sustainable and scalable industry-wide change, such as operational improvements and digital innovations to better support pharmacy teams behind the counter as well as the need to inspire more to choose a career in community pharmacy, as pharmacy college enrollment rates steadily decline.

"Following the COVID-19 pandemic, patients continue to turn to local pharmacies more frequently for healthcare services, because of their convenience and the growing trust they have in their pharmacy teams," said Prem Shah, executive vice president, chief pharmacy officer, and president of Pharmacy and Consumer Wellness at CVS Health. "To continue to meet growing patient needs, we must evolve how community pharmacy works and, most importantly, how we support our pharmacy teams to create a sustainable future for community pharmacy."

[Read more: CVS Health reports strong Q3]

In addition, The Rx Report explores how other key changes to the current pharmacy model may also be needed to address growing pressures on the industry. This includes a recently announced pharmacy reimbursement model that will shift how CVS Pharmacy is compensated by aligning reimbursement to the quality services provided and prescriptions dispensed. Together, these important changes will help create a more durable business model, the company said.

Key findings from The Rx Report CVS Health survey show that:

  • Nearly 7 in 10 Americans prefer pharmacies for their healthcare needs because of their convenient locations and evening and weekend hours of operation.
  • The overwhelming majority of Americans—up to 90%—believe that a connected, digital pharmacy experience enhances the overall patient experience. 
  • More than four in 10 people of color visit their local pharmacies in-person at least a few times per month to speak with a pharmacist about their healthcare needs. 
  • The future of pharmacy is both digital and in-person
  • Digital tools, such as online prescription tracking, prescription delivery, scheduling appointments or pick-up, and paying online or via mobile app provide patients with options that allow them to receive care at the touch of a button, enhancing, but not replacing the important relationship between pharmacists and their patients. Meanwhile, integrating technology into the pharmacy experience helps to improve efficiency behind the counter.
  • Community pharmacy can aid in the pursuit of health equity. Pharmacy teams are well-positioned to provide continued access to important services, such as vaccinations, particularly in medically underserved areas or populations. People of color increasingly trust their local pharmacists and seek out more affordable and accessible services, providing community pharmacies an opportunity to fill gaps left by more traditional health care channels.
  • Despite increasing demand for services and opportunities for growth in community pharmacy, fewer people are drawn to the profession. Although 15,000 PharmDs graduate from pharmacy schools each year, enrollment has declined significantly over the years, and the industry is grappling with high levels of burnout. The Rx Report emphasizes the importance and urgency of making community pharmacy a better place to work and providing the next generation of pharmacy students with tools for success.

The Rx Report finds that community pharmacies are already an essential part of the larger healthcare system, and the industry is poised to make an even greater impact, making health care more accessible, convenient and comprehensive than ever before. CVS Health said it is committed to optimizing its offerings to better serve patients while creating streamlined professional capacity and expanding opportunities for pharmacists nationwide.

[Read more: CVS Health report highlights need for expanded role of retail pharmacists]

The research was conducted online in the United States as part of the CVS Health Dimensions of Health Care study. The Harris Poll surveyed 4,007 US adults aged 18+, 203 US Family/General Practice and Internal Medicine Physicians, and 202 US retail, hospital, and independent pharmacists. The survey was conducted from March 9-20, 2023.

Download and read the full report here.

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