Survey: U.S. adults trust Internet more than pharmacist on health care decisions

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 09:51 AM

A new RxAlly survey revealed that only 18% of U.S. adults trust a pharmacist most to help guide and inform healthcare decisions for themselves and their families. A majority of people trust their doctor most 72%, followed by friends and family 36%, spouses or significant others 36% and the Internet 22%.

Despite high awareness (63%) that pharmacists are the health care practitioners with the most specialized training in medication management, their expertise is widely underutilized. The study was conducted online by Harris Interactive in September 2012 among 2,310 U.S. adults ages 18 and older.

The survey also found that only 15% of U.S. adults have ever discussed a medication maintenance regimen with a pharmacist and only 49% have discussed any new medication with a pharmacist. In addition, the survey revealed that 76% of adults agree that pharmacists are equally as qualified to answer questions about prescription medications as doctors. However, only 25% have regular conversations about their health with a pharmacist and only 39% report that they often rely on a pharmacist for medical advice.

Bruce Roberts, CEO of RxAlly, points to medication adherence as one of the problems pharmacists can solve. "There is a significant discrepancy between patient-reported versus proven adherence rates, which underscores the need to leverage pharmacists' specialized training to better educate patients about their medications and how to more correctly take them," he said. "Ongoing personalized pharmacist care involving regular conversations with a pharmacist is proven to increase adherence rates, improve patient health and reduce costs—a triple win for patients, pharmacists and the entire U.S. health care industry."

The survey supports the notion that this discrepancy is highly prevalent, revealing that 89% of U.S. adults said that they always take their medication as directed by their doctor or pharmacist, indicating a clear disconnect between patients' understanding of proper medication adherence and their actual usage. In fact, several seminal studies have shown that of the approximately 187 million Americans who take one or more prescription drugs, up to one-half do not take their medications as prescribed. Low rates of medication adherence lead to disease complications, increased hospitalization, drug resistance and even death, leaving a void that RxAlly and its performance network of pharmacies are addressing.

Despite the convenient and cost-effective care available to them at pharmacies, many people do not take advantage of it. Survey results showed that only 27% of Americans have received a blood pressure screening in a pharmacy and 22% have received an in-pharmacy flu shot.  RxAlly believes immunizations are another key area in which pharmacists are well-positioned to improve patient access to preventative care and avert avoidable healthcare costs.

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