How To Measure Patient Experience
As people have become better aware and informed about their own health and the range of healthcare services available to help them manage and treat health related issues, their expectations about what constitutes an acceptable level of service has also increased.
From their experiences of trying to get an appointment and waiting times to see a consultant, to their experiences of being treated in a hospital and their follow up care. These experiences and many more form the key moments of the patient experience (PX) that an individual will typically go through on their patient journey.
Consequently, if you’re going to better manage these key moments, while delivering the improvements that patients want to see, you need to have some measurements in place to allow you to do this.
However, before you even start to look at the metrics to measure your patient experience, you need to have a solid understanding of what the patient experience is, which is what we’re going to look at next.
Why has the patient experience become so important?
Firstly, with more information about healthcare available than ever before, patients have become better informed and consequently have higher expectations about what they perceive to be a quality level of healthcare service delivery.
Secondly, there is also a better understanding about the link between patient experiences and patient outcomes. Broadly speaking patients who have a positive patient experience and feel more settled, comfortable and less anxious, tend to be more ready and able to engage with their health and care, which in turn helps lead to better patient outcomes. And with patient experience now regarded as one of the key indicators of quality in healthcare provision in essential areas including clinical effectiveness and patient safety, it makes sense to deliver as positive a patient experience as you can.
Metrics to measure patient experience
If you’re relatively new to the concept of patient experience and gathering patient feedback, there are some key surveys and KPI metrics, that can give you an indication of your patient satisfaction levels and subsequently how healthy your patient experience is.
So, let's start looking at them right away.
Among the most familiar and popular ways of getting to know your patients, the patient satisfaction survey is a great way of assessing your patient’s overall contentment with many aspects of your service.
From their satisfaction with their initial appointment booking enquiry and experiences with your staff, to their contentment with the advice, treatment and ongoing communications they receive from your organisation. There’s lots you can measure and identify through issuing a satisfaction survey at frequent intervals of a patient’s health journey with you.
To help you obtain data that’s measurable and is quick and simple to analyse, consider using a rating style question. These typically require recipients to rate something on a one-to-five scale.
"Were you satisfied with the doctor that you were allocated with?"
(based on a 1 to 5 scale where 5 denotes very satisfied and 1 denotes really dissatisfied)
- Very satisfied
- Very dissatisfied
Patient Net Promoter Score® (NPS)
Another popular method of measurement that can give you a top-level view of how your organisation and its services are perceived by your patients is the patient NPS score metric question.
Using this metric can enable you to assess patient loyalty and satisfaction, by how willing they are to recommend you to their friends.
How to measure it
You can measure your patient NPS by asking your patients to answer the following question.
"On a scale of 0 – 10, how likely are you to recommend our organisation or services to a friend or a colleague?" (given that 0 represents not likely and 10 very likely)
Each score is then grouped using the following classifications.
- 9-10 – Promoters (clients who love your practice and actively promote it)
- 7-8 – Passives (customers who like your practice but don’t love it yet)
- 0-6 – Detractors (clients who are unhappy with your practice and could be at risk of churning)
You can then calculate your patient NPS score by subtracting your number of detractors from your number of promoters. This should leave you with a positive or negative number, which you will need to divide by your total number of survey responses and then multiply by 100. You’ll then be left with a number between 100 and –100. The higher your score the more desirable it will be, as this indicates that you’re getting things right and your patients are noticing and appreciating this.
The Friends and Family Test (FFT)
Another key staple for measuring the patient experience in the NHS, is to use The Friends and Family Test (FFT).
The premise behind this is that people who use NHS services should have the opportunity to feedback about their experience. Subsequently, the FFT, gives patients the chance to comment on the treatment and care they’ve received, in their own words.
Following changes introduced in 2022, the FFT is now made up of a single mandatory default question followed by one or more open free-text questions.
The new question is as follows:
"Overall, how was your experience of our service?"
[ ] Very good
[ ] Good
[ ] Neither good nor poor
[ ] Poor
[ ] Very poor
[ ] Don’t know
In addition, new preceding text has been added to make it as clear as possible which setting the feedback refers to. Following on from the words: “Thinking about”, providers should choose the most appropriate option, from examples including your GP practice, your stay in hospital, your dental practice, your recent visit to A&E and many other possible healthcare settings that could apply.
GP Patient Survey
Another metric, similar to the FFT, but targeted specifically at standards of general practice is the GP Patient Survey.
Using this survey, you’re able to get a better idea about your patients’ experience of the services you deliver and any areas that you need improving.
Within the survey, patients will be typically asked to feedback on issues ranging from how easy they found it to access GP surgery services and make appointments to their views on opening hours and the quality of care they’ve received from GPs and practice nurses.
Finally, another specific but equally valuable survey for obtaining the patient’s perspective is the Patient-Reported Outcome Measures (PROMS) questionnaire.
Created to get patient views on the treatment they’ve received, the PROMS survey is predominantly focused on the outcomes of those that have had hip, knee, hernia and varicose vein treatment, as well of those that have been diagnosed with breast, bowel or prostate cancer.
Ongoing measurement is key to improving patient experiences
Having seen how vital the patient experience is to enabling better patient outcomes, the need to incorporate some of these surveys and metrics into your patient experience programme has never been more important.
Yet, if you’re to get the clearest picture of how your patients are feeling and what you need to improve, you need to be continually surveying them and monitoring their feedback.
If you can do that, you’ll give yourself the best chance of delivering the best possible patient experience, which will benefit your own organisation, as well as your patient’s health.