The healthcare system is witnessing a massive shift from volume-based to value-based care. The primary focus is now on patient outcomes and satisfaction. Healthcare professionals today understand that high-quality care includes not just the physical health of patients but also their overall experience!
However, the question that begs to ask is: How do we measure patient experience? How can healthcare providers use this data to improve services and patient care?
In this blog, we explain why the patient experience has become important and uncover a few techniques to improve it.
What is Patient Experience?
Before we discuss how to measure patient experience, it’s crucial to understand what it entails.
Patient experience refers to what a person goes through when they get medical care. It’s about how a doctor, nurse, or other healthcare worker makes you feel during your visit. It includes things like:
- How easy it is to get an appointment
- The quality of the information you receive
- The time you spend waiting
- How well your pain is managed
- Overall treatment
A good patient experience means you feel heard, cared for, and respected by your healthcare team. It is a holistic view of a patient’s end-to-end journey through the healthcare system.
Why Measure Patient Experience?
Measuring patient experience is crucial for a multitude of reasons:
- Understanding Needs: By measuring patient experience, we can understand what patients need and want from their healthcare. This helps design services that meet those needs, ultimately leading to better health outcomes.
- Identifying Gaps: Measuring patient experience can highlight healthcare system areas that need improvement.
- Improving Satisfaction: Patients with a positive experience will likely be more satisfied with their healthcare. This is important because satisfied patients are more likely to take their medications, attend follow-up appointments, and manage their health effectively.
- Building Trust: We can build trust and improve relationships by listening to patients and acting on their feedback.
- Boosting Reputation: Positive patient experiences can enhance the reputation of a healthcare provider or organization. Word-of-mouth is powerful, and happy patients will likely recommend their healthcare provider to others. This can lead to more patients and more opportunities to provide high-quality care.
How to Measure Patient Experience?
Now that we understand the what and why, let’s delve into the how. There are several methods to measure patient experience, and the best approach often involves combining techniques!
Patient Satisfaction Surveys
The most common way to measure patient experience is through surveys. These can range from short, post-visit questionnaires to comprehensive annual surveys covering all patient care aspects.
One of the most widely used surveys is the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS). This standardized survey is used nationwide to compare hospitals publicly. It includes questions about:
- Communication with doctors and nurses
- Responsiveness of hospital staff
- Cleanliness and noise level of the hospital environment
- Overall rating of the hospital
Patient Net Promoter Score® (NPS)
The Patient Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a simple yet powerful tool to measure patient satisfaction. It’s based on one question: “On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend our healthcare services to a friend or family member?”
The responses are then divided into three categories:
- If a patient scores you 9 or 10, they are “Promoters” — very happy with your service.
- If they score 7 or 8, they are “Passive”, meaning they’re pretty satisfied but not overly enthusiastic.
- If they give you a score of 6 or below, they are “Detractors”, suggesting they had a poor experience.
To calculate your NPS, you subtract the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters. This gives you a score between -100 and +100. A positive score means you have more Promoters than Detractors, which is good!
For example, if 70% of your patients were Promoters, 20% were Passive, and 10% were Detractors, your NPS would be 60 (70% Promoters – 10% Detractors = 60). This suggests a solid level of patient satisfaction.
The Friends and Family Test (FFT)
The Friends and Family Test (FFT) is a patient suggestion box. After you’ve had treatment, someone might ask you:
“Would you recommend our service to your friends and family?”
This is a simple yet effective way to measure patient experience. Here’s how it works. You can answer with options like:
- Extremely likely
- Neither likely nor unlikely
- Extremely unlikely
- Don’t know
That’s how the FFT measures patient experience. It’s like giving a thumbs up or down, with the chance to add some comments.
GP Patient Survey
The GP Patient Survey is a tool that helps measure patient experiences, including those provided by general practitioners (GPs). It is like a feedback form for your doctor’s appointment.
This survey will ask about different parts of your visit, for example:
- Was the appointment easy to schedule?
- If you had to wait a long time to be seen.
- How do you feel about the GP’s attitude?
- Did they explain things clearly?
- It may also ask about the office staff, like the receptionist or nurse.
Once you’ve completed and returned this survey, the responses are gathered and analyzed. This gives the healthcare providers a better idea of what they’re doing well and where they might need to improve. So, if many patients say they had to wait too long, the clinic might try to schedule appointments differently to reduce waiting times.
Patient-Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs) are surveys or questionnaires that patients fill out. This provides direct feedback about their health and the quality of care they receive.
For instance, a doctor might give a patient a PROM survey after a treatment or procedure. This survey could ask:
- Patient’s to rate their pain levels,
- Their ability to carry out everyday tasks
- How do they feel after the treatment
Let’s say a patient had knee surgery. After the procedure, the doctor could give the patient a survey asking them to rate their pain from 1 to 10 and describe how well they can walk or climb stairs. This can help the doctor understand if the surgery successfully reduced pain and improved mobility.
This way, PROMs can give doctors a clearer picture of a patient’s health and experience, enabling them to provide better, more personalized care.
Measuring patient experience is not a one-time activity. It’s a continuous process of gathering and analyzing data, making improvements, and then re-evaluating to see if those improvements have made a difference. By focusing on patient experience, healthcare organizations can improve patient outcomes, enhance patient loyalty, and increase the overall quality of care.
After all, at the heart of healthcare are the patients, and their experience matters the most.