Characteristics of Pilot Study Pharmacies

2012 Preliminary Comparative Results

Overall response results for the participating pilot study pharmacies are summarized in Table 2. 

Table 2. Overall and Average Response Statistics for 55 Pharmacies

Overall Response Rate Information Statistic
Number of respondents 479
Number of surveys administered 635
Overall response rate 75%
Average Response Rate Information Statistic
Average number of respondents per pharmacy (range: 5 to 20) 9
Average number of surveys administered per pharmacy (range: 5 to 36) 12
Average pharmacy response rate (range: 17% to 100%) 83%

Pharmacy characteristics were obtained from a designated point of contact in each pharmacy or by headquarters staff for a pharmacy chain. Table 3 shows the distribution of pharmacies by pharmacy type.

Approximately two-thirds of pharmacies (68 percent) were considered either a supermarket pharmacy or a mass merchant/discount retailer pharmacy that carries a wide variety of merchandise and has a pharmacy within the store.

Note: In tables in this document, column percent totals may not add to exactly 100 percent because of rounding. 

Table 3. Distribution of Pharmacies by Type of Store

Pharmacy Type Pilot Study Pharmacies
  Number Percent
Mass merchant/discount retailer pharmacy 19 35%
Supermarket pharmacy 18 33%
Independent pharmacy 8 15%
Integrated health system pharmacy 8 15%
Chain drugstore (local, regional, national) 2 4%
Total 55 100%

The 55 pilot study pharmacies came from 25 States in the United States. However, the pharmacies that voluntarily participated in these data collection efforts are not statistically representative of all pharmacies in the United States. To provide a basic comparison of the number of pilot pharmacies with estimates of the population of pharmacies in the United States, we provide comparative numbers based on data from the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) 2011-2012 Chain Pharmacy Industry Profile.

The distribution of pharmacies by type is presented in Table 4. The pilot study pharmacies represent less than 0.001 percent of the total number of U.S. pharmacies. In addition, mass merchant and supermarket pharmacies are overrepresented in the pilot study. 

Table 4. Distribution of Pharmacies by Type of Store for U.S. Pharmacies and Pilot Study Pharmacies

Pharmacy Type U.S. Pharmaciesa Pilot Study Pharmacies
  Number Percent Number Percent
Mass merchant/discount retailer pharmacy 8,273 14% 19 35%
Supermarket pharmacy 9,333 15% 18 33%
Independent pharmacy 20,835 34% 8 15%
Integrated health system pharmacy/chain drugstore (local, regional, national) 22,595 37% 10 18%
Total 61,036 100% 55 100%

a Source of data for U.S. pharmacies: National Association of Chain Drug Stores. NACDS 2011-2012 Chain Pharmacy Industry Profile. 2011. Statistics for integrated health system pharmacies that are open to the public are combined with statistics for chain drugstores in the NACDS results.

Seventy-five percent of the pharmacies belonged to an organization with 50 or more stores (Table 5). The largest proportions of pharmacies were from the East North Central (42 percent) and the South Atlantic regions (20 percent), as shown in Table 6. Fifty-six percent of pharmacies dispensed 1,500 or fewer prescriptions per week (Table 7). 

Table 5. Distribution of Pharmacies by Number of Locations/Stores

Number of Locations/Stores Pilot Study Pharmacies
Number Percent
1 (This pharmacy is the only location) 5 9%
2 to 3 4 7%
4 to 9 3 5%
10 to 24 0 0%
25 to 49 2 4%
50 to 99 8 15%
100 or more 33 60%
Total 55 100%

 

Table 6. Distribution of Pharmacies by Region

Region Pilot Study Pharmacies
  Number Percent
Mid-Atlantic/New England 5 9%
South Atlantic 11 20%
E. North Central 23 42%
E. South Central 9 16%
W. Central 3 5%
Mountain/Pacific 4 7%
Total 55 100%

States and territories are categorized into regions as follows: Mid-Atlantic: NJ, NY, PA; New England: CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT; South Atlantic: DC, DE, FL, GA, MD, NC, SC, VA, WV, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands; East North Central: IL, IN, MI, OH, WI; East South Central: AL, KY, MS, TN; West Central: AR, IA, KS, LA, MN, MO, ND, NE, OK, SD, TX; Mountain: AZ, CO, ID, MT, NM, NV, UT, WY; Pacific: AK, CA, HI, OR, WA, American Samoa, Guam, Marshall Islands, Northern Mariana Islands. 

Table 7. Distribution of Pharmacies by Average Number of Prescriptions Dispensed per Week

Average Number of Prescriptions Pilot Study Pharmacies
  Number Percent
700 or fewer per week 3 5%
701 to 1,500 per week 28 51%
1,501 to 3,000 per week 15 27%
3,001 to 6,000 per week 7 13%
6,001 to 12,000 per week 2 4%
More than 12,000 per week 0 0%
Total 55 100%

Almost all pharmacies (91 percent) were open on average 9-12 hours per weekday, with 78 percent of pharmacies open 7 days a week (Tables 8 and 9). One-third of pharmacies (33 percent) had a drive-through window, and few pharmacies (18 percent) had a centrally located fulfillment center (central fill) for dispensing medications (Tables 10 and 11). Most staff did not belong to a union (98 percent), as shown in Table 12. 

Table 8. Distribution of Pharmacies by Hours per Weekday Pharmacy Is Open

Hours per Weekday Pharmacy Open Pilot Study Pharmacies
Number Percent
8 or fewer hours per weekday 0 0%
9 to 12 hours per weekday 50 91%
13 to 15 hours per weekday 4 7%
16 to 23 hours per weekday 0 0%
24 hours per weekday 1 2%
Total 55 100%

 

Table 9. Distribution of Pharmacies by Days per Week Pharmacy Is Open

Days per Week Pharmacy Is Open Pilot Study Pharmacies
Number Percent
5 or fewer days a week 1 2%
6 days a week 11 20%
7 days a week 43 78%
Total 55 100%

 

Table 10. Distribution of Pharmacies by Whether There Is a Drive-Through Window

Has Drive-Through Window Pilot Study Pharmacies
Number Percent
Yes 18 33%
No 37 67%
Total 55 100%

 

Table 11. Distribution of Pharmacies by Whether There Is a Central Fill for Dispensing Medications

Has Central Fill Pilot Study Pharmacies
Number Percent
Yes 10 18%
No 45 82%
Total 55 100%

 

Table 12. Distribution of Pharmacies by Staff Who Belong to a Union

Staff Who Belong to a Union Pilot Study Pharmacies
Number Percent
Pharmacists 0 0%
Pharmacy technicians 1 2%
Other pharmacy staff 0 0%
No staff in this pharmacy belong to a union 54 98%

Table 13 presents data on the use of automated electronic technologies in the pharmacies. All of the pilot study pharmacies (100 percent) had computer alerts for drug interactions, while only 11 percent had a robotic filling system. 

Table 13. Distribution of Pharmacies by Use of Selected Automated (Electronic) Technologies

Automated (Electronic) Technologies Implementation Status
Yes, we currently use this tool No, but we
plan to in the
next 6 months
No, and we do not plan to
Scanner to import paper prescriptions into a pharmacy computer 49% 4% 47%
Ability to receive electronic prescriptions 98% 0% 2%
Automated system for patients to request prescription refills (fax, voicemail, interactive voice response [IVR], touch-tone telephone prompts, email, or Internet) 95% 0% 5%
Computer alerts for drug interactions 100% 0% 0%
Barcode verification of medications 65% 4% 31%
Robotic filling system 11% 2% 87%
Automated pill-counting device (nonrobotic) 22% 2% 76%
Picture of drug on computer to compare with prescription 60% 2% 38%
Image of original prescription on computer display during final check 49% 5% 45%
Automation at pickup to prevent wrong-patient error (e.g., cash register programmed to ask for and enter date of birth through scanning or manual input prior to dispensing) 33% 25% 42%
Other automated tools 18% 0% 82%

Many of the pharmacies offered medication management services. Table 14 shows that vaccination or other immunization administration was the medication management service most fully implemented across pharmacies (80 percent); anticoagulation management (e.g., in-pharmacy finger sticks and International Normalized Ratio testing, patient education, dose adjustments) was the least (2 percent). 

Table 14. Distribution of Pharmacies by Use of Selected Clinical/Medication Therapy Management Services

Clinical/Medication Therapy Management Services Implementation Status
Yes No, but we plan
to in the
next 6 months
No, and we do not plan to
Vaccination or other immunization administration 80% 2% 18%
Medication therapy management to identify and resolve medication-related problems 78% 5% 16%
Consultation services for complex medical conditions 38% 16% 45%
Screening and wellness services (e.g., asthma, diabetes, heart disease, smoking cessation, weight loss) 44% 16% 40%
Coaching and support for disease management (e.g., diabetes, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart failure, Parkinson’s disease) 35% 24% 42%
Anticoagulation management (e.g., in-pharmacy finger sticks and International Normalized Ratio testing, patient education, dose adjustments) 2% 0% 98%
Other clinical services 17% 0% 83%

Most pharmacies (76 percent) compounded medications on site (Table 15). Of those compounding pharmacies, 93 percent performed only simple compounding (Table 16). 

Table 15. Distribution of Pharmacies by Whether They Compound Medications on Site

Compound Medications on Site Pilot Study Pharmacies
Number Percent
Yes 42 76%
No 13 24%
Total 55 100%

 

Table 16. Distribution of Pharmacies That Compound Medications on Site by Type of Compounding

Type of Compounding Pilot Study Pharmacies That Compound on Site
Number Percent
Simple only 39 93%
Complex only 0 0%
Both simple and complex 3 7%
Total 42 100%

As shown in Table 17, nearly all pharmacies (98 percent) had a system for documenting errors, and 38 percent had both a paper and electronic system. 

Table 17. Distribution of Pharmacies by Whether There Is a System for Documenting Errors Within the Pharmacy

System for Documenting Errors Pilot Study Pharmacies
Number Percent
Yes, a paper and electronic system 21 38%
Yes, a paper system only 17 31%
Yes, an electronic system only 16 29%
Don’t know 1 2%
No 0 0%
Total 55 100%

More than half of the pharmacies (53 percent) do not report errors to an external reporting program, as shown in Table 18. 

Table 18. Pharmacies by Reporting of Errors to Selected External Reporting Programs

Reporting Errors That Occur Within the Pharmacy Pilot Study Pharmacies
Number Percent
The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) Medication Errors Reporting Program (MERP) 2 4%
MedWatch: The FDA Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting System 7 13%
Federally certified Patient Safety Organization (PSO) other than ISMP 2 4%
Private company providing error monitoring services to pharmacies 4 7%
Other 15 27%
Does not report to an external reporting program 29 53%

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Page last reviewed September 2012
Internet Citation: Characteristics of Pilot Study Pharmacies: 2012 Preliminary Comparative Results. September 2012. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/professionals/quality-patient-safety/patientsafetyculture/pharmacy/2012/pilot.html