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Patient experience measurement: How to collect helpful data

Last updated

22 August 2023

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Patient experience is one of the key indicators of healthcare service quality. Over the past decade, healthcare organizations have been paying more attention to evaluating and streamlining the patient journey. The goal is to improve patient satisfaction and safety while boosting clinical effectiveness.

Healthcare organizations and providers are focussing on delivering superb patient experiences while exploring ways to measure them. The right tools enable them to track their patient experience campaign and improve its outcomes.

What is patient experience?

Patient experience is the patient’s perception of how they receive care in a healthcare setting. It’s a combination of several factors, including the process of setting up appointments, doctor consultations, exploration of treatment options, and even the taste of hospital meals.

When a patient has a positive experience, they are more likely to stay with their health plan or provider for many years. They are also more likely to continue engaging with the healthcare industry in general. This ultimately improves patient outcomes through preventive care and treatment.

Patient experience vs. patient satisfaction

People often use the terms “patient experience” and “patient satisfaction” interchangeably. However, these terms have different meanings. Patient experience is based on perception, while patient satisfaction is based on expectations.

To measure patient experience, an organization must find out whether the patient is happy with their healthcare journey. Meanwhile, measuring patient satisfaction also involves learning what these patients initially expected from the healthcare service.

While both patient satisfaction and patient experience are subjective, experience can be easier to measure since it’s less influenced by personal feelings.

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What is patient experience measurement?

Your healthcare organization can improve the patient experience by measuring and monitoring it. As a result, you can enjoy the following:

  • Better reputation

  • Increased efficiency

  • Higher revenue

  • Fewer lawsuits

  • Higher patient retention rates

  • Higher patient and staff satisfaction

  • Better patient health outcomes

You’ll need to gather patient data to measure patient experience. Healthcare organizations use several patient experience measurement tools to collect and analyze patient experience data and gain valuable insights.

Here are some of the available patient measurement tools:

Questionnaire surveys

Questionnaire surveys contain questions about the patient’s perception of healthcare services. They are either handed out in clinics, sent via email or SMS, provided online, or offered on interactive screens in facilities to obtain real-time feedback.

Interviews and focus groups

Methods like interviews and focus groups involve interacting with patients in person to receive a steady flow of experience data. They can be more expensive and harder to arrange, but they often provide data that’s easier to analyze than thousands of survey responses.

Complaints and reviews

You can assess feedback that patients leave in online directories or on the healthcare provider’s website as well as official complaints filed with the organization or clinic.

Patient stories

Written, audio, or video recordings of patients’ experiences with your organization can provide a high volume of data for analytics.

Photovoice

Patients use photos and relevant captions to describe their experience with the healthcare provider over time. Photovoice has proven to be an effective method for measuring the patient experience and increasing awareness.

PREMs and PROMs

When it comes to patient experience measurement, healthcare organizations, clinics, and providers take advantage of patient-reported experience measures (PREMs) and patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs).

PREMs

Patient-reported experience measures are instruments that measure a patient’s perception of the experience they have when receiving care in a healthcare facility or organization. These are questionnaire-based tools that ask patients to report on the processes that took place during their journey with a service provider.

For example, a patient visits a dentist’s office with acute pain. A questionnaire would ask if they received fast relief for their pain and how satisfied they were with the experience. By evaluating hundreds or thousands of these episodes, a dentist can evaluate care loopholes and understand how to improve the clinic’s services.

A custom PREM questionnaire may look like this:

Please evaluate the following aspects of your experience with your physician on a four-point scale (excellent, very good, good, fair):

  • The physician made you feel comfortable

  • The physician gave you sufficient time to talk about your problem

  • The physician explained things clearly

  • The physician offered a course of treatment

Similar to other types of patient questionnaires, PREMs have to be concise and straightforward to prevent fatigue and frustration.

The downside of using PREMs is the subjectiveness of patient opinions. Their answers may not be influenced by their experience alone but by expectations and health outcomes.

PROMs

Patient-reported outcome measures are standardized tools that assess the patient’s health status, well-being, and quality of life associated with healthcare. Essentially, the patient reports their own perception of health through a questionnaire.

These tools collect the patient’s views, feelings, and experiences to measure changes in their health status.

In the past, PROMs only helped evaluate treatment effectiveness and care quality. Today, they are a popular method of gathering and analyzing data to improve patient-centered care.

The data healthcare organizations get from PROMs can provide insights into the effectiveness of treatment methods and their impact on patient experience.

The importance of patient experience measurement

Measuring patient experience and implementing related insights can boost the quality of patient care and satisfaction. More and more healthcare providers are shifting from the traditional approach to patient-centered tactics. These tactics have several benefits for everyone involved, including patients and healthcare providers.

Improved health outcomes

A positive patient experience can lead to better health outcomes. A patient who is happy with their experience is likely to continue receiving the care they need. This plays a major role in preventive tactics and early discovery. For example, the five-year survival rate for breast cancer patients who discovered their condition early is 99%. For late-stage breast cancer, it’s 30%.

Patients who have excellent experiences with providers, especially in terms of communication, are more likely to follow treatment plans. If providers explain things clearly and support the patient through their journey, those patients are more likely to stay on track and recover faster. This is especially important for patients with chronic conditions who have to focus on treatment consistency.

A study showed that patients with diabetes who had better communication and experiences with healthcare providers had fewer functional limitations and lower blood sugar levels.

Lower operations costs

By improving patient experience, healthcare organizations can decrease operational costs and prevent unexpected expenses. Studies demonstrate that low patient experience scores are associated with higher malpractice risks. Accordingly, by focusing on patient experience, healthcare organizations can reduce the number of malpractice lawsuits and related expenses.

Staff satisfaction rates also rise when an organization works to improve patient experience, resulting in higher loyalty and lower churn.

Meanwhile, positive experiences keep patients with their healthcare providers. Unhappy patients tend to leave their providers and even switch health plans. This leads to additional expenses for the healthcare facility or organization.

Better organizational performance

Measuring the patient experience provides valuable data about the performance of the healthcare facility’s staff. By analyzing patient experience data, healthcare organizations can design strategies to improve staff performance. Optimization leads to higher quality care, better patient outcomes, and higher patient and staff retention rates.

Improved reputation

Since patient experience measurement leads to better patient outcomes and satisfaction rates, it also affects the healthcare facility’s reputation. A study by the National Research Corporation demonstrated that better patient experience leads to improvements in a hospital’s reputation.

When patients are happy with their experience in a hospital or other healthcare setting, they are likely to share their opinion with others. This word-of-mouth marketing is highly important to healthcare organizations.

By sharing positive experiences on social media, review sites, and other digital environments, existing patients improve the hospital’s reputation and attract new patients.

Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) surveys

The CAHPS family of surveys is one of the most effective examples of patient experience measurement tools. These surveys were developed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and are part of the organization’s plans to improve healthcare in the US.

The design of these surveys allows for the evaluation of a large number of patient experiences. They include standardized questions and data collection methods to make it easier to compare data across healthcare facilities, clinics, and organizations.

Healthcare organizations and facilities can use these surveys to assess the patient experience, develop their own questionnaires, or use a combination of questions to suit their needs.

How to measure patient experience

Before creating surveys and questionnaires or organizing focus groups and monitoring online reviews, you need to consider several factors.

  • The definition of patient experience for your organization—what it means to improve the experience for your patients in terms of your healthcare services.

  • Your plans for using patient experience insights—what you want to achieve by gaining insights from patient experience measurements.

  • Who you plan to get patient experience data from—do you want to get this information from a certain segment, group, or all patients that interact with your healthcare services?

  • Figure out the best time to collect feedback—you could gather feedback immediately after a patient receives your services or in the following days when they have had time to evaluate them.

  • Identify patient experience measurement tools—you may need to rely on third-party surveys or create your own questionnaires.

  • Identify data analysis methodologies—figure out how you are going to analyze data collected from patient experience measurement tools.

Keep in mind that patient experience measurements are just one part of a broader measurement framework. To gain more insights, you’ll need to evaluate other factors, including staff performance, service availability, and patient expectations.

Leveraging patient experience measurement

Since patient experience is becoming one of the main focuses of healthcare operations, measuring and monitoring it right is key to making improvements over time.

By leveraging patient experience management tools, healthcare facilities, organizations, and other industry players can streamline operations, cut costs, and improve health outcomes.

Depending on your niche, resources, and goals, you can either choose existing patient measurement instruments or design your own. Once you have the right data, select a suitable analysis methodology to obtain high-quality insights.

FAQs

What are patient-reported experience measurement tools?

Patient-reported experience measurement tools are instruments that gather patient feedback. Examples include questionnaires, surveys, and feedback sites.

What questions are asked in a patient satisfaction survey?

Questions in a patient satisfaction survey focus on a patient’s experience with the healthcare service provider.

Here are some examples:

  • Did you have enough time to explain your problem to the provider?

  • Was the practitioner clear about the course of treatment?

  • How easy was it to schedule an appointment?

What is the response rate for patient experience surveys?

The response rate for patient experience surveys can depend on many factors, including the type of services a patient receives and the way the survey was performed.

A recent overview of several surveys implemented to assess the experience of surgical patients demonstrated a 70% average response rate.

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