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Alternative PBMs Surpass Big 3 in Customer Satisfaction, Survey Reveals

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March 22, 2024

In an era marked by rapid transformation within the healthcare sector, the latest Pharmacy Benefit Manager Customer Satisfaction Report from the Pharmaceutical Strategies Group (PSG) presents findings that are clear signals of a significant industry shift. 

The standout revelation that alternative PBMs have surpassed the Big 3 in customer satisfaction marks a pivotal shift, echoing the industry's demand for more innovation and transparency—a call SmithRx is actively responding to. For brokers, this trend signals a warning: clients are growing increasingly frustrated with the Big 3's services. Sticking to the status quo could jeopardize your client relationships, as it is increasingly likely they'll to turn to brokers who embrace the alternatives.

Deciphering the Big 3 Downturn and Ascendancy of Alternative PBMs

The decline in overall customer satisfaction from a high of 8.2 in 2021 to 7.6—the lowest rating since 2014—paints a picture of a sector grappling with multifaceted challenges. 

Factors such as the soaring costs of prescription drugs, tarnished public images due to various controversies, and the intensifying scrutiny from political entities have contributed to this dip. And the significant drop in the Net Promoter Score (NPS) from 38 in 2021 to just 8 in 2023 underscores a growing hesitation among respondents to endorse their PBMs, signaling a shift in the industry's confidence and trust.

This report not only charts the changing tides of customer expectations, but also highlights the growing success of alternative PBMs. These entities, like SmithRx, distinguish themselves through business transparency and a commitment to delivering flexible, patient-centric solutions. 

As you can see in the chart below, alternative PBMs beat out the Big 3 in customizability, relationship-orientedness, patient management of members using specialty medications, and the management of specialty medications. 

The trend is clear: alternative PBMs are gaining ground. And this shift isn't just about dissatisfaction with the status quo; it's a proactive search for partners who prioritize clear communication, innovative solutions, and genuinely value-driven services. 

As this trend continues, it's poised to reshape the PBM landscape, challenging incumbents to adapt and signaling a new era of competition and customer-centric service in pharmacy benefit management.

A Critical Juncture for Brokers and Consultants 

Transparency in healthcare benefits management has become a top priority for employers and plan sponsors, given the opacity in traditional PBM pricing structures and practices. By correctly evaluating and recommending PBMs known for their transparent operations, brokers and consultants can aid their clients in navigating these complexities, ensuring investments in healthcare are both efficient and aligned with ethical standards.

To those who have yet to partner with SmithRx, we extend a heartfelt invitation. In this dynamic period of industry evolution, there lies a unique opportunity to lead the charge towards a more transparent, efficient, and equitable PBM landscape. By joining forces with us, you can provide your clients with a refreshing alternative that not only addresses their immediate needs but also anticipates the future challenges and opportunities within the healthcare sector. 

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A new type of pharmacy benefits manager, SmithRx is working to reduce pharmacy costs by reimagining the traditional PBM as a Drug Acquisition Platform built on transparent modern technology that aligns with the needs of our customers.