The Patient Experience


Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it – H James Harrington, Business performance guru.

There are many operational metrics to consider when running a medical practice: patient volume, revenue and expenses, staff turnover etc.

Customer Satisfaction Perception Gap

But what about customer satisfaction and its impact upon your business? How do you measure the experience of your patients and its relationship to the success of your clinic? Importantly, how do you avoid falling into the Customer Satisfaction Perception Gap’?

At the past Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons conference, I presented case studies of two cosmedicine practices that had implemented Patient Experience (PX) programs and successfully leveraged the patient feedback to achieve significant beneficial outcomes.

Let’s look at Practice 1, a plastic surgery clinic that also offers minimally invasive treatments.

Initially, a custom-designed patient questionnaire was developed, identifying the interaction touchpoints that their typical patient would experience. This covered every step of their journey, from preliminary enquiry through final post-treatment follow-up.

Those touchpoints were grouped by type to create KPIs such as: Administration Efficiency and Courtesy, Consultation Process, Post Treatment Follow-Up and Hospital Stay Experience.

One other critical KPI included was Net Promoter Score (NPS), a measurement of patients’ ‘likelihood to recommend,’ on a scale from -100 to +100.

Analysis of the data from the rst three months of patient feedback revealed a number of clinic administration issues where it was clear that dissatisfaction was a regular occurrence, impacting on the overall customer satisfaction and NPS.

In this case, Appointments (scheduling and on-time) and Billing (efficiency and accuracy) were sub-optimal.

The clinic team began with a full review of their procedures involving those two issues and implemented strategies to improve.

Narrative patient comments provided detailed insight into the specific causes of dissatisfaction.

As subsequent periodic data came in, they monitored the impact of those revised procedures and began reviewing other areas where outcome improvements were feasible.

Their ultimate goal was to achieve 9th decile scores across the board, by using a strategy of active engagement and evolving to meet customer needs.

By continually analysing feedback and re ning processes, over time the clinic has seen:

  • Satisfaction with their Administration improve from 65% to 85%.
  • A substantial increase in their Overall Patient Experience rating.
  • Likelihood to Recommend the Clinic (NPS) more than double, from 19 to 42.
  • An increase of 28% in client retention for minimally invasive procedures.

A study published in the September 2017 edition of Physicians Practice showed that: ‘More than 80% of high-performing practices gather feedback from patients through surveys and online review sites’.

On the other hand, ‘almost half of falling-behind practices collect no feedback from patients’.

Utilising the data from their PX program has enabled the clinic in this case study to:

  • Identify potential problems before they become systemic.
  • Enhance their customer loyalty.
  • Engage and motivate their staff in the process of improving practice procedure.
  • Reduce the incident of complaints cropping up in online social media review forums.

In an increasingly competitive environment, medical providers need to meet the expectations of service savvy customers to win and retain their business. AMP

Kerry Bielik founded Insight Patient Satisfaction Solutions, a specialist consulting firm delivering bespoke online customer experience programs for medical practices in Australia, the US and the Asia/Pacific region. He is a veteran of the hotel and hospitality management industry, having worked for global operators such as Accor, InterContinental and Park Plaza. or call +61 414 365 865.