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Patient satisfaction with clinic-based medication pick up: Addressing pharmacy-level challenges to buprenorphine access

Elizabeth Kolb, MS, Mark Rueth, PharmD


Introduction: Pharmacy-level challenges that exist for patients when seeking to fill buprenorphine prescriptions at traditional retail pharmacies can result in a less than optimal treatment experience. High patient satisfaction with treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD), which for oral buprenorphine treatment includes the necessary step of obtaining medication after being prescribed, is associated with positive health outcomes and, therefore, is of great clinical interest. The objective of this study was to examine patient satisfaction when participating in a pharmacy program that coordinated buprenorphine delivery and provision to patients at office visits instead of requiring patients to fill their prescriptions at local pharmacies.

Methods: We conducted a voluntary and anonymous survey to assess patient satisfaction when the need to seek a retail pharmacy to fill buprenorphine prescriptions was alleviated. The survey was completed by 714 patients prescribed buprenorphine for OUD treated at 15 office-based opioid treatment clinics that integrated the clinic-based pharmacy program as an extension of their treatment services. The survey consisted of 16 questions evaluating satisfaction with the pharmacy program and prior retail pharmacy experience.

Results: Majority of patient respondents reported high levels of satisfaction with the pharmacy program. Specifically, 97.6 percent (n = 697) of respondents noted feeling respected and/or that the pharmacy staff cares about their wellbeing, 91.7 percent (n = 655) of respondents reported that they are more likely to make their treatment appointments and/or stick to their treatment plan when the physical need to seek a pharmacy to fill their prescription was alleviated. The survey resulted in an 83.8 Net Promoter Score, further supporting a high patient satisfaction. Patient responses regarding how the program impacted their recovery illustrated common themes of more convenient, more private, judgment free, quicker, and stress free. The survey responses also validated previously reported pharmacy-level barriers for patients with OUD that the program sought to alleviate. Transportation challenges and/or undue time spent obtaining medication were indicated by 77.6 percent (n = 528) of respondents, 56.8 percent (n = 386) of respondents experienced feelings of stigma or shame at retail pharmacies was experienced by 56.8% (n = 386) of respondents, and pharmacies not reliably stocking their medication was indicated by 37.1 percent (n = 252) of respondents.

Conclusions: The survey findings demonstrate that patients were highly satisfied with the provision of pharmacy-dispensed buprenorphine at their treatment visit in place of having to seek to fill prescriptions at retail pharmacies. Responses indicated the pharmacy program may also be a motivating factor for patients to attend treatment appointments. Continuing to develop and research strategies that alleviate physical barriers to buprenorphine access and result in high patient satisfaction, like this clinic-based pharmacy program studied, have meaningful implications for both patients and treatment providers.


patient satisfaction, pharmacy experience, buprenorphine, medication access, opioid use disorder

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