Ask any marketer if they’ve heard of the term “net promoter score” before, and they’re bound to say yes. But for many of those who work in healthcare, it may be an unfamiliar term. Simply put, net promoter score (or NPS) refers to how likely a customer is to recommend your organization, product, or service to their friends, family members, and colleagues. NPS in healthcare, then, refers specifically to how likely patients are to recommend you as a provider to their peers.
While net promoter score has traditionally been associated with industries like retail, food service, and hospitality, more and more healthcare organizations are beginning to pay close attention to it. It makes sense — in addition to providing insight into your patient experience, your NPS can be used to help you forecast growth. After all, having a high NPS frequently translates to attracting new patients and increasing revenue.
Wondering how you can improve the net promoter score at your organization? Read on for three simple yet actionable ideas.
Boosting NPS in Healthcare
1. Provide a pleasant environment
Medical practices, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities often have a reputation for being drab — think harsh fluorescent lights, bare walls, and nothing to do but stare at your phone while you wait to be seen. Combine that with the anxiety many patients in need of care already feel, and it can make for a pretty negative experience. While staying in a healthcare facility will probably never be anyone’s idea of a good time, a little sprucing up can go a long way. And don’t worry — you don’t have to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a remodel to make it happen.
Playing some soothing background music in your waiting room, for example, can help people feel at ease at very little cost. You might also consider offering beverages. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate — a coffee/tea dispenser and water pitcher (perhaps infused with some cucumber slices or chopped fruit if you want to go the extra mile) is plenty sufficient. You could even lay out a small selection of packaged snacks, like pretzels and granola bars.
If you want to get decorative, you can try adding some plants, pieces of artwork, or a small tabletop fountain. Oh, and don’t forget something to keep patients entertained — a selection of different magazines and newspapers is always nice. If you really want to go all out, you can repaint, buy new furniture, or reinstall new lighting, but it’s not a requirement by any means.
So many healthcare facilities have a sterile, utilitarian feel that even small touches will stand out to patients. And if you can manage to make your environment calming and enjoyable, patients will be significantly more likely to recommend you to others.
2. Prioritize efficiency
Another great way to increase your net promoter score is by operating more efficiently. A lot of patients feel that a visit to the doctor (or hospital, physical therapist, imaging center, etc.) is a tedious process — and with inconveniences like stacks of paperwork to fill out and long wait times, who can blame them? Streamline your processes to eliminate some of these common frustrations, and you’ll be able to build a lot of good will with patients.
Take wait time, for one. Long waits are among patients’ most common complaints — research has even shown that they have driven one in five patients to switch providers. Although wait time isn’t always within your control, it’s frequently the result of poor patient flow. A patient flow management tool helps ensure that patients move through each stage of care, from check-in to check-out, as efficiently as possible. This, in turn, allows you to stick to your optimal schedule and reduce wait time for patients across the board.
You’ll also want to keep convenience in mind for your patients. Anything you can do to reduce the time and effort patients put into seeking care will help you stand out from your competitors. Most people would rather schedule an appointment online, for example, than play phone tag with your administrative staff. Similarly, you should make a point to communicate in whichever way works best for your patients. Sending appointment reminders and patient surveys via text is typically less cumbersome for patients than having to field calls, emails, or snail mail.
Of course, these are just a few examples, not an all-encompassing list. So if you really want to improve the way your facility operates, you’ll have to do some digging to identify which areas are in need of updating.
3. Follow up with unhappy patients
Few things can affect NPS in healthcare as much as a dissatisfied patient whose concerns have been ignored or unaddressed. But the good news is, an unhappy patient doesn’t have to stay that way. Reaching out to a patient who shares negative feedback, listening and learning about their situation, and offering a solution gives you an excellent shot of turning their entire experience around — a tactic commonly referred to as service recovery. Do a good enough job appeasing them, and they might even go from complaining to singing your praises. Let it fall to the wayside, though, and you may find yourself the recipient of negative reviews or word-of-mouth.
There are a few different crucial components when it comes to successful service recovery, one of which is timeliness. Unhappy patients want to be attended to in the moment, not days, weeks, or months after their visit. If your patient feedback system isn’t giving you the information you need in time to intervene, you’re overdue for an upgrade. Look for a patient surveying solution that provides you with real-time data so you can instantly be alerted to any patient experience in need of attention as it occurs. The sooner you get in touch with the patient, the better your chances of being able to set things right.
When speaking to the patient, make sure to demonstrate empathy and listen closely to whatever issues they’ve encountered. Even if their negative experience was largely out of your hands, fight any urge you have to cast the blame on a particular person or situation. When you do this, you send the message that you’re more concerned about covering yourself or your organization than helping resolve an issue.
Once the patient has relayed their experience to you, apologize (again, making sure not to play the blame game) and work with them to identify a potential remedy. And of course, make sure to follow through — as the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. If there’s anything you can do to go the extra mile, the effort will likely be very appreciated.
Increasing your NPS in healthcare can be challenging. Unlike industries such as retail, food service, or hospitality, healthcare workers don’t have the opportunity to simply provide disgruntled clientele with a coupon or freebie. But there are many small steps you can take to create a more enjoyable environment, identify and eliminate any inconveniences in your operations, and assuage unhappy patients. And each one of these actions adds up to a better patient experience. Over time, this effort might just be able to convert indifferent patients into loyal advocates eager to recommend your facility to the people in their life.
Interested in learning more about how Quality Reviews can help you improve your patient experience and net promoter score? Let’s talk. Contact us to learn more about our solutions or schedule a demo.