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We need more meaningful metrics for patient experience | Viewpoint

Article

While companies value customer loyalty, what people want from the healthcare industry is value for their time.

Focus on NPS is unfortunate

The consumerization of healthcare has driven healthcare leaders to adopt measurement tools that most consumer-facing companies employ.

When providers focus on the value they create for the time that patients spend with them, they create better experiences, the authors suggest. (Image credit: ©Gregory Miller - stock.adobe.com)

When providers focus on the value they create for the time that patients spend with them, they create better experiences, the authors suggest. (Image credit: ©Gregory Miller - stock.adobe.com)

Unfortunately, not all of those tools worked as well as was advertised. For experience strategists in healthcare, the least effective tool today is the Net Promoter Score (NPS). Net Promoter Score is the most widely used consumer experience assessment metric. And some people absolutely swear by it.

We don’t. And the reasons are:

  • It was designed 25 years ago for a much different economic environment.
  • It discourages people to fill out surveys because it’s so overused.
  • It doesn’t measure the experience; it simply indicates some form of loyalty may exist.
  • Most people who respond aren’t answering the actual question. They see it as a patient satisfaction score.

Toward time well spent

In many ways, consumer goods and services companies could learn a thing or two from healthcare about metrics. Because of value-based care, many healthcare providers use outcome-oriented measures to assess their patient population.

Tools like Patient Activation Measure (PAM), Patient Health Engagement (PHE), Altarum Consumer Engagement (ACE) are, in our opinion, far superior to NPS as gauges of patient engagement with their health. They are not intended to measure the value of the experience but provide real insights on customer engagement and its influence on health outcomes. And that’s more than consumer goods and services companies can say.

While companies value customer loyalty, what people want from the healthcare industry is value for their time. When solution providers focus on the value they create for the time that patients and customers spend with them, they create better experiences. People are busy. They want something meaningful for the time they spend with you. If you can deliver value for time, they will return, and they will share the value of their experiences with others.

There are three types of “time” that we think companies should be focused on: time well saved, time well spent in the moment, and time well invested. All companies need to eliminate time wasters and create value for time spent.

Three key questions

Here are three questions to ask yourself when determining whether an experience creates value:

  1. Does the experience get the job done for the customer?
  2. Is the customer truly engaged with the experience?
  3. Does the customer see the value of the time they spend with the healthcare provider?

Getting the job done, real engagement, and time value are the three factors that make up the Time Well Spent metric.

Unlike NPS, these three types of questions get to the heart of the matter and help you as an organization focus on creating the right kinds of experiences for patients that will help them improve and want to return.

About the authors

David Norton is the founder and principal of Stone Mantel, a consultancy focusing on customer and employee experience strategy. Mary Putman is chief consultancy officer of Stone Mantel, and Tiffany Mura is strategic lead of healthcare at Stone Mantel.

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