Using Net Promoter Scores To Understand Patient Attitudes

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By Brian Maguire

No healthcare organization survives without growth in its patient base. From the smallest practice in a rural area to the largest hospital chain, the economics suggests that merely retaining patients is not enough to allow a practice to survive. That’s why patient relationship management (PRM) software is a key tool for helping a practice determine how to better serve its patients.

The statistics differ slightly depending on the practice or specialty, but generally about 7% of patients say they will change healthcare providers if they are not satisfied with their care or another aspect of their experience at a practice. If the average practice in the U.S. has around 2,000 active patients, that’s at least 140 patients at-risk of leaving in the average practice. And when those patients leave, there is time and expense in administration and marketing just to attempt maintain the previous patient population numbers, not to mention growing the practice.

This is where patient relationship management software can help a busy practice stay busy and better understand what specifically satisfies patients, what steps you can take to increase their likeliness to promote your practice (known as the net promoter score (NPS)), and build better relationships with all those that you serve. 

The robust patient-satisfaction measurement tools found in some PRM programs allow patients an opportunity to comment on a practice’s standard of care, from the doctor’s patient-communication skills to an office’s communication and front-desk performance, among other factors.

As an example, a practice can use its PRM software to develop and send a short survey to its patients. As a practice leader, you may also wish to know about the performance of a new provider in the office, or the front-desk experience, as well as what new services the practice should consider adding, and more. 

How Net Promoter Score works

A practice may believe it is delivering excellent care to patients, but by measuring it NPS, you can be sure of whether or not your patients agree. When measuring NPS, it’s critical to keep in mind that the results may not always be what a you or the practitioners want to hear, but to serve the patients in the best possible manner and allow the practice to thrive, the data collect from patients is better than guesswork or hunches, and is usually very accurate. Unfortunately, the previous, not the latter, is how many healthcare practices traditionally operate.

Net promoter scores classify users into one of three categories: detractors, passive, or promoters. The higher the score, the better, but the genius of the NPS is that negative results can be just as insightful to a practice as positive feedback. 

It works like this. A practice might send a quick survey to patients to ask if they would be likely to recommend the practice. The responses are broken into three categories (0 to 6 [detractors]; 7 to 8 [passive]; 9 to 10 [promoters]).

Let’s say that 50 patients respond. Eighty percent of these responses are in the 9 to 10 range and 10% of responses in the 0 to 6 range. Then toss out the mid-range and subtract the number of lower responses from the higher responses. This yields a score of 60%, expressed as an NPS of 60.

Critical patient feedback

These feedback/input opportunities offer another method for two-way communication between patients and a practice. When patients feel connected to a practice, they may be more likely to be engaged with their healthcare and perhaps more willing to consider treatment proposals. 

While the actual NPS is important, what this tells the practice about how it is perceived by its patients is crucial. It also opens the door for deeper, more insightful surveys and conversations.

These patients may also be more likely to continue with a practice rather than seeking a new healthcare home. Other factors influence this decision, of course, such as insurance and cost, but the more of an attachment a patient has with a practice, the more difficult it is to walk away.

What this tells us is that creating a partnership between the practice and their patient is crucial. Patient relationship management software that can help a practice better engage within a robust program creates a robust partnership between practice and patient.

And the real benefits of a partnership are illustrated by the success of both parties. When you put new abilities and resources to work in a practice, the results include healthier patients, more customers, increased revenue, and greater profitability. Even when the results are bad, the outcomes can be good.

Brian Maguire is the CEO of RavePoint, whose market-leading patient relationship management platform helps more than 600 healthcare organizations automate the perpetual processes of keeping their schedules full and their patients notified, while improving the total healthcare experience of more than 8 million patients.

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