Consumerism has forged the topography of modern healthcare in ways that feel permanent. With a few swipes of a smartphone, healthcare consumers can compare and purchase insurance plans, gather information about any disease burden, engage their providers, fill prescriptions, price common medical procedures, pay a bill, and gather as like-minded communities for advocacy and support.
As a result, healthcare consumers’ expectations and preferences have aligned more closely to what would be expected from hospitality or retail services. In other words, choice, control, and convenience increasingly define the extent to which a patient is loyal to and advocates for your health system.
In response, health system executives are adopting experience metrics long used by their counterparts in consumer-facing services industries — patient effort, satisfaction, and time-on-task ratings.
The clinical side of healthcare has a number of ways to measure patient experience and quality, such as HCAHPS. Financial measurements tend to focus more on dollars than patients, even though the patient’s overall satisfaction can be negatively colored by a poor financial experience. Measuring how much cash is collected upfront is a valuable metric, but it doesn’t quantify the patient financial experience.
Without a more standardized approach, many health systems are running blind, reliant on listening to calls or trouble-shooting problems as sources of consumer input. This post will examine a few evidence-based ways to accurately measure and quantify the patient financial experience.
Evaluative tools to measure patient experience
The Customer Effort Score (CES) measures how easy it is for a customer to engage with a system, application or organization. It can be used digitally or offline. CES can be used to assess and obtain a more complete picture of customer satisfaction. Using a CES survey, customers are asked to rate the effort required to complete a task on a 5-point Likert scale. Through in-app surveys, VisitPay uses CES in conjunction with other survey questions, such as time-on-task, to obtain a more accurate measure of the overall patient experience.
CES survey questions are tied to specific tasks – for example, once a patient pays a bill online — so the feedback can be used to measure and track the patient experience for different high-priority tasks and steps within the user journey. This granular view allows VisitPay to create a richer and more fulfilling user experience.
Using CES to compare patient experiences
VisitPay compares CES between clients. Using an overall score as a baseline, VisitPay’s business analysts can see how an individual health system’s patients are rating tasks. For example, they can compare how Client A’s patients rate a particular task against Client B’s patients. If Client B’s users are consistently scoring higher with their CES, the analytics team can look at the data, determine the cause, and make recommendations to Client A.
It’s like a temperature reading of how VisitPay is doing. After establishing a baseline, the VisitPay team can explore why one client’s score is higher than the next client – and they can do that at the task-level.
Net Promoter Score® (NPS)
The Net Promoter Score is an index that measures the likelihood of customers recommending an organization’s products or services. Used as a best practice in retail, financial services, consumer products, airlines and other industries for many years, NPS gauges the customer’s overall satisfaction with a company’s product or service and the customer’s loyalty to the brand.
Calculating NPS is achieved by surveying customers using a single question based on an 11-point Likert scale that rates their likelihood to recommend the organization or brand to someone else. “On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend this company’s product or service to a friend or colleague?” Based on their rating, customers are then classified into three categories: Detractors (0-6), Passives (7-8), and Promoters (9-10). The NPS score is calculated as follows:
[Promoters (9-10) – Detractors (0-6)] / Total Responses x 100. The Passives are not counted.
In general, any NPS score over 30 is considered good, over 50 is really good, and anything over 70 is excellent.
The differences between CES and NPS
The main difference between CES and NPS is granularity. NPS is a blunt tool that measures an overall experience that may not accurately account for targeted experience innovations or improvements.
By contrast, CES can isolate specific points in an experience journey, making it easier to identify points of dissatisfaction, e.g., registration vs. making an online payment. This allows the development, support and user experience teams to dial in and use the feedback around particular steps to better inform their decisions.
Take the path of least resistance
It’s human nature to take the path of least resistance. The more effortless a process is, the more likely users will start to gravitate towards adopting it. When a patient has to make a phone call and sit on hold for 15 minutes, that’s a negative experience. If they end up having to write a check and put it in the mail, hoping it arrives without getting lost, that’s more time they are devoting to something which could have been simpler. The patient ends up monitoring their bank account and waiting for the check to clear — which is especially frustrating for the patient who wants to pay online but can’t because the process itself is a deterrent. Compare that experience to an intuitive, user-friendly online payment experience that is easy, fast, and without speed bumps.
For a bill paysite, a smooth and seamless experience is a must; otherwise, users will abandon or quickly experience frustration. The user journey should follow the mental model the user expects. If they can’t accomplish tasks such as setting up a payment plan, making a payment, or registering online, then the health system’s revenue will suffer. By making the process as effortless as possible, VisitPay is increasing the likelihood that users make payments. CES feedback can result in quick actions by a software development or user experience team.
Patient experience and profitability
The link between better patient experience scores, ratings, and financial performance is becoming more pronounced. Patients with better experiences across the different stages of care from registration through to billing are more likely to continue using the services and recommend their provider’s services to other patients. As competition from urgent and retail care clinics attract patients seeking more affordable, consumer-friendly experiences, traditional hospitals struggle with declining profits. Health systems that can tailor services to meet the demands of the new healthcare consumer will be better positioned for growth.
Better billing experiences improve patient engagement. Learn how VisitPay can help move your patient satisfaction in the right direction.
 Net Promoter, NPS, and the NPS-related emoticons are registered service marks, and Net Promoter Score and Net Promoter System are service marks of Bain & Company, Inc., Satmetrix Systems, Inc., and Fred Reichheld.