Measuring Patient Data to Improve, Not to Impress

patient dataAs patients demand a more active role in their health care, consumerization in the industry will continue to grow. Treating patients as other than health care consumers may erode the clinician-patient relationship, which would be a dire mistake, affecting clinical outcomes and patient retention. Mutual trust is the foundation of the clinician-patient relationship, not mere impressiveness.

Healthcare service consultant, Micah Solomon, warns that healthcare providers and institutions comparing themselves to each other solely within the healthcare sector, “sets the bar too low.” The healthcare sector is an insular one. A carefully thought through benchmark is set to meet the expectations of today’s demanding health care consumer. Fred Lee, author of the book, “If Disney Ran Your Hospital: 9 1/2 Things You Would Do Differently”, agrees. Loyalty and satisfaction are separated by a wide margin of service quality, and loyalty, not satisfaction is the key to capturing market share.

Lee points to a Harvard Business Review article which states that on a five-point balanced Likert scale, consumers who offer a rating of four are six times more likely to defect to competing organizations. If a healthcare organization is to increase its five star ratings, only actionable improvements that lead to increased patient loyalty will do. “Satisfied” is simply not good enough. An organization driven by patient data, with goals set at the highest standards will succeed. M3-Patient Experience® allows healthcare leadership, and front-line managers, to stay focused on what is becoming the key patient data measurement in healthcare; the Top Box percentage. A Top Box percentage is very simply the percentage of patients that gave the highest possible score to a given question. A “5” rating or “Strongly Agree” rating as described in the Harvard Business review article.

Fred Lee on M3-Patient Experience®: “I liked all the questions in your survey and could honestly not think of anything I felt was not covered. It is really an electronic work of art. You are to be highly commended. I can recommend it highly, and you can quote me on that!”

Actionable Patient Data

Analytics and patient data are only as good as the culture that embraces and acts on them. Patient feedback, especially feedback that represents service failures, should be acted upon within hours, not several days, and certainly not months. Support staff that are taught how to interpret patient data and participate in the service improvement process make the difference. Ideally, key performance metrics are continuously evaluated as benchmarks are set into play, which results in a culture of continuous service improvement and service excellence.

Categorize Based on the Highest AND Lowest Ratings

While it’s useful to pay attention to the best players in the industry; e.g., external benchmarking, internal benchmarking using the organization’s historical patient data is much more effective as it relates to making incremental improvements. It puts service quality under the microscope — an examination that encourages constant improvement. Patient data can be divided into two categories; favorable and unfavorable. Understanding outliers on a consistent basis will bring into focus two themes; identify best practices and share them across the organization, and 2) correct service failures and build better patient-care team relationships.

Every Patient Makes a Difference

Examining patient data for each individual patient is critical; both clinical outcomes and patient retention hinge on making accurate evaluations. First, make it a point to thank every patient for choosing you (or your healthcare organization) as their healthcare provider. Secondly, ask every patient if they have feedback, if they do, listen and act on it. When patients provide compliments, pass along the positive comments to front-line staff, physicians, and others that made a favorable impression on the patient. Perhaps most importantly, follow up on service failures ASAP – don’t delay — every day that passes is another day that an unhappy patient has to continue to mull over what happened, and another day risking that the unhappy patient will express their dissatisfaction with their closest friends and family. Word of mouth advertising is even more powerful in today’s social media-driven age. Patients who are satisfied don’t sing their healthcare organization’s praises, loyal patients do.

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