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Making The Most Out Of Patient Survey Feedback

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Melinda Curle

Many healthcare practices recognize the value of delivering quality experiences that make individuals feel appreciated, valued and empowered as partners in clinical decision-making. Gathering insight on the patient experience is critical to meet these goals and the Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a key metric that every healthcare organization can use. By adding NPS to surveys, you can easily evaluate patient satisfaction and put your findings into action by adapting your operations and obtaining more efficient clinical processes. 

What Is NPS?

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) turns patient feedback into a useful metric by quantifying the patient experience with a rating system that enables healthcare providers to analyze their healthcare practice. Respondents provide feedback through a rating scale of 1-10, with responses categorized into promoter, passive and detractor. While those scoring a 9 or 10 are promoters, scores below a 6 are detractors and scores of 7 or 8 are classified as passive. 

You can measure your NPS by calculating the difference in the percentage of promoters versus detractors.  For example, if 60% of respondents are promoters and 20% are detractors, you have a Net Promoter Score of 40. Higher scores indicate better quality patient experiences while lower scores signify less satisfied patients. Healthcare organizations can then use  NPS to predict business growth, identify areas of weakness and improve clinical retention.

How To Leverage NPS

To make the most of your NPS data collection and to actually transform your practice, you need to put your insights into action. You can achieve this by asking the right open-ended questions, strategically analyzing feedback trends, making real changes for the better and actively keeping in touch with patients throughout their entire journey - even post discharge! 

Ask Direct and Personable Questions

When designing an effective healthcare survey, your questionnaire must be brief and focused to ensure a high response rate. If it is too confusing for your patients, they may not answer all the questions or worse- they could even ignore the survey entirely. Keep in mind that the classic way to conduct an NPS survey is to present the opportunity for the respondent to offer a one to ten scale rating. You should also include an open-ended question asking for the explanation behind their response. In constructing your survey, you should present the standard NPS question:

"How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague? - 1 (not likely) through 10 (highly likely) " 

In addition, you can include questions that solicit clarification or provide advise on what could be better - in the case of a detractor response. Through these follow-up engagements, you can learn what patients value in their interactions with your practice, along with foster opportunities for improvement. 

Measure What Works

Over time, fluctuations in your NPS score can help you discern when you are achieving your goals and when you need to make adjustments. Reviewing survey feedback will help you determine which aspects of your practice that patients enjoy and which ones may frustrate them. While you may make occasional quick fixes to address common concerns, you can't make sweeping changes to your practice overnight. Instead, use patient satisfaction rates to identify themes, analyze trends and prioritize actions to take. 

Remember that multiple variables in your practice play a role in a patient's experience. By analyzing your NPS over time, you can assess whether procedures, technology or staff assignments may be hindering your practice's ability to deliver positive patient experiences. Ensure that you gather enough data over a few months to identify the problem before making changes.

Implement Changes To Your Practice

Once you have analyzed the data to discover what isn't working, you should take corrective action that aligns with the patient feedback. When making operational changes, you need to make sure that your staff is on board to ensure success. This is true whether you are onboarding new technology, updating your clinical workflows or adjusting task productivity. 

Instead of implementing something new and hoping everyone will comply, make a plan in advance that communicates the rationale for your decision to all of your team members. Keep reaching out to reinforce the need for the transition and acknowledge the importance of celebrating success - no matter how small the victory. After you have instituted a change, you should steadily stay consistent unless new patient data leads you in another direction. Ideally, you should gather three to six months' worth of patient insight to see if your actions have made a difference before pursuing other shifts

Stay In Touch Throughout The Entire Patient Journey

While NPS is a valuable tool, capturing and analyzing this metric is only one element of  encompassing every interaction each individual has with your practice. Today, technology makes it simple to communicate and build relationships with all of your patients using tools such as email, two-way messaging, telehealth and patient portals. 

Through automated engagement, you can educate patients on health initiatives, remind them of upcoming appointments, support convenient patient-provider contact as well as help patients foster a strong relationship with your practice. Structured outreach helps you stay connected with patients and encourages them to develop personal routines outside of your office that promote well-being. Additionally, it generates positive feelings about not only themselves but also your practice - resulting in meaningful feedback and higher NPS scores.

At first glance, gathering NPS feedback can seem like a cumbersome task, but the right technology can streamline data collection and fine-tune your operations, so that you can achieve high levels of service that empower you to meet or better - exceed patient expectations. For example, by regularly reviewing your NPS score, you can determine whether you are successful at meeting patient needs or if you need to make adjustments. Solutions that feature automated survey distribution and detailed reporting can yield actionable insights that you should employ to ensure optimized outcomes as well as elevated delivery of care.


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