Over the shoulder view of a person working on a laptop with graphs and charts displayed on the screen as patient experience metrics

How To Measure Patient Experience Metrics

Patient experience covers everything from how easy it is to make an appointment to how well staff communicates with patients. Ideally, every patient must have a top-notch experience at your healthcare organization.

However, there’s no way to determine the level of quality of patient experience you’re providing without monitoring specific patient experience metrics. These indicators allow you to track and identify areas where your practice needs improvement.

Below, we explain how to measure patient experience metrics, why they’re important, and which the healthcare industry typically tracks. 

What Are Patient Experience Metrics

Patient experience metrics are indicators that healthcare organizations use to measure and track different aspects of the patient experience. These can include everything from the ease of appointment scheduling to the quality of care patients receive.

Various patient experience metrics exist depending on the factors your organization wants to track. However, all metrics have one thing in common: they help you identify areas of improvement.

Why Are Patient Metrics So Important?

Patient experience metrics are essential for a variety of reasons. They help healthcare organizations understand how well they care for their patients and where they need to improve.

Additionally, patient experience data can benchmark an organization’s performance against others, identify best practices, and drive quality improvement initiatives. For instance, if a hospital sees that its patient experience scores are lower than average, it may implement changes to improve care.

Suppose you make changes in your healthcare practice that tie in with the experience patients have. This could be a new appointment scheduling app or better amenities in the waiting rooms. How would you know if these changes have improved the patient satisfaction rating? Are they doing their intended job? Patient experience metrics help you determine just that.

Key Metrics for Measuring Patient Experience

Healthcare providers must be familiar with the patient experience metrics they should track to determine patient satisfaction. Some vital metrics to track include:

Net Promoter Score

The net promoter score measures patient satisfaction. It is determined by asking patients how likely they are to recommend the healthcare provider to their friends and family on a scale of 0 to 10.

  • Score 9 to 10: These patients are Promoters. Thus, they are loyal patients who are likely to continue using the healthcare provider’s services and recommend them to others.
  • Score 7 to 8: Patients with these scores are Passives. While satisfied with your services, they’re not enthusiastic enough to recommend you.
  • Score 0 to 6: These patients are Detractors. They’re unhappy with their experience and will likely switch to another healthcare provider or leave a negative review.

The net promoter score is calculated by subtracting the Detractors’ percentage from the Promoters’ percentage. 

Suppose 60% of patients are Promoters, 15% are Passives, and 25% are Detractors. The net promoter score would be (60-25), which is 35.

Your goal would be to increase the percentage of Promoters and decrease the percentage of Detractors.

Patient Effort Score

The patient effort score (PES) measures how much effort patients feel they must put into their care. PES surveys ask patients questions with answers ranging from ‘very easy’ to ‘very difficult.’

The idea is that patients stay loyal to practices that make their lives easy. Thus, a high PES score indicates that your practice is doing a good job of making things easy for patients.

Patient Satisfaction Score

The patient satisfaction score is one of the most significant patient experience metrics. It gives insight into how patients feel about the care they receive.

Literature shows that 70% to 90% are satisfied with the level of care they get. However, this may not be true for your practice.

Measuring patient satisfaction is vital since it’s a strong predictor of whether patients will return for care and recommend your practice to others.

You can measure the patient satisfaction score using a CAHPS (Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) survey. The survey asks patients questions about their recent experience with the healthcare provider. The questions focus on different aspects of care, such as how well the provider communicated and how easy it was to get an appointment.

The patient satisfaction score is usually reported as a percentage. A score of 80% or higher is considered excellent.

Secondary Metrics for Understanding Quality of Patient Experience

Besides the patient experience metrics explained above, you should also measure secondary metrics. These will give you a view into the ease of the health encounter and whether patients tend to return to your practice.

Patient Retention vs. Patient Churn

Patient retention means that patients continue to use your services. On the other hand, patient churn is when patients stop using your services.

You can calculate patient retention by dividing the number of patients who returned for care over a certain period by the total number of patients seen during that time. Suppose you saw 500 patients in the past four months. Of those, 400 returned for care within the next four months. The patient retention rate would be 80%.

Meanwhile, the churn rate for your practice would be 20%.

Ideally, the retention rate should be as high as possible, and the churn rate should be as low as possible.

Revenue Growth

When you improve patient experience, you’ll ultimately see an increase in revenue. That happens in two ways.

First, patients return to your practice. Second, they recommend you to their friends and family.

Both of these lead to an increase in the number of patients your practice sees. You can track revenue growth by looking at the year-over-year change in your practice’s revenue.

Suppose your practice generated $1 million in revenue last year. This year, your practice generated $1.2 million in revenue. The year-over-year growth rate would be 20%.

First Call Resolution

First-call resolution refers to the percentage of calls resolved on the first call.

The metric indicates how efficient your customer service is. The higher the percentage, the better.

Ideally, you want to resolve 100% of calls on the first call. But that’s not always possible.

A good first-call resolution rate is 80% or higher. To calculate this, divide the number of calls resolved on the first call by the total number of calls. Then, multiply the result by 100 to get a percentage.

For example, suppose your practice received 1,000 calls in the past month. Of those, 800 were resolved on the first call. The first call resolution rate would be 80%.

Time to Resolve 

Time to resolve is the average amount of time it takes to resolve a call. It shows how long patients have to wait to get their issues resolved.

You can expect high patient satisfaction scores by shortening the resolution time. After all, every patient wants their issues fixed as quickly as possible. Try to keep the time to resolve their concerns to under three minutes. The longer a call goes, the more agitated and unsatisfied a customer might become.

How To Create and Apply Patient Experience Metrics

When choosing and applying the right patient experience metrics for your practice, you must consider a few things. First, you should determine the metrics for clinical care. Follow with other quality measures, such as patient communication, online reviews, and office environment. 

Here’s how you can create patient experience metrics and apply them in your healthcare practice.

Start With SMART Goals For Care Experiences and Establish KPIs

SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Use these elements when creating your patient experience metrics as they’ll help you track progress over time.

Your clinical care experiences should aim to be specific, such as reducing surgical site infections by a certain percentage. Other measures, such as patient communication, can be more difficult to quantify.

You can use patient surveys to score different areas of their experiences with you and your staff. When you establish your key performance indicators (KPIs), set a target for each metric. Doing so will help you see if you’re making progress or if there’s room for improvement in specific areas.

Develop Targeted Patient Satisfaction Surveys

A patient experience survey is your best tool for collecting data about patients’ interactions with your practice. It can range from a short, one-time poll to a more in-depth study.

Your survey should be tailored to your specific goals. Plus, it should target patients who have recently interacted with your healthcare practice.

Suppose you want to create a survey to determine how well your staff communicates with patients. Here are some questions to ask in this regard:

  • How long did you have to wait to see the doctor?
  • Did the doctor answer all of your questions?
  • Did the doctor explain things in a way you could understand?
  • Did the doctor listen to your concerns?
  • Did the nurse or medical assistant answer all of your questions?
  • Was the receptionist polite and helpful?

Another way to go about a patient experience survey is to let patients choose scores from ‘very satisfied’ to ‘very dissatisfied.’ You can ask questions about the following:

  • Wait times
  • Ease of scheduling an appointment
  • Staff friendliness and helpfulness
  • Quality of care
  • Instructions for follow-up care

Pull Insight From Surveys To Improve Patient Satisfaction

The answers from your patient experience surveys will give you actionable steps to improve patient satisfaction. For example, if you find that patients are dissatisfied with the amount of time they have to wait to see the doctor, you can take steps to reduce that wait time.

You might also find that patients are happy with the quality of care but are unhappy with the cleanliness of the office. In this case, focus on improving your office environment.

The key is to use the data from your surveys to make changes that will positively impact patient satisfaction. You can also use this information to determine which campaigns or steps are working.

Suppose you introduced an app for your healthcare practice. The app has functionality for patients to schedule appointments. Moreover, it sends appointment reminders to patients.

Include questions about this app in the patient surveys. The patients’ answers will help you determine how successful the app has been and if it’s something you should continue using.

Use Technology To Track, Measure, and Reply to Online Reviews

Technology is a valuable tool whether you want to improve patient communication about medicine or preserve electronic health records. You can use it to track and measure the patient experience in real time.

For instance, you can use Google Alerts to track when your practice is mentioned online. Instead of delaying responses to online reviews, you can get back to patients right away.

Moreover, you can aggregate online reviews to determine patient sentiment about your brand. How many positive reviews do you have? How many negative reviews?

You can also use technology to create a forum for patients to give feedback. It can be an online survey or a follow-up email with a link to a survey.

Optimize Patient Communication Processes According to Feedback

One of the main reasons for measuring patient experience metrics is to make changes according to the results. You can optimize patient communication based on the feedback you get through surveys or online reviews.

Suppose your surveys reveal that patients are unhappy with how their calls are handled. You can change the call script or add more staff to answer calls.

Likewise, you can reduce the frequency if patients think you’re sending them too many emails. When patients see you’re responding to their feedback through changes and improvements, they will likely continue providing feedback. It also establishes trust and transparency between you and your patients.Most importantly, patient-centered communication is critical to improving patient satisfaction. When you make changes to your communication process, ensure they’re based on what will work best for your patients. After all, they’re on the receiving end of your communication.

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