For private healthcare providers looking for customer experience feedback it pays not to model yourselves on a fast food outlet…

Allied Health providers need to ask more than Net Promoter Score to achieve real improvement in your patient’s experience.

The Thing About Health…

It’s now increasingly commonplace for private health care providers to see the value in conducting a customer experience programme with patients. Private providers are wanting to leverage the best practices used in other sectors where customer experience programmes have been well established for years. However, while these health providers typically share the financial goals of other industries, there are unique aspects in the health sector which are not as critical elsewhere. While Toyota, Uber and Starbucks primarily focus on brand loyalty and repeat business, they don’t save lives, repair bodies or deal with the emotional and physical well-being of their customers.

Conventional industries tend to rely heavily on the Net Promoter Score (“NPS”) mechanism as a key measure in customer experience i.e. would you recommend our product/service to friends or colleague? However, within health, many of your patients hope to never need your services again and would hope their friends don’t either. That said, NPS is still a valuable indicator of experience, just not the whole picture.

Your patients and clients have a much deeper emotional connection to their experiences than an Uber ride to the airport. Clients using our programmes find that, if you ask patients for feedback in the right way, they will happily give very detailed feedback – if not for themselves but for the greater good of their community. This is very different customer perspective compared to more commercial, light-touch sectors. The key for health providers is to leverage the best, and most suitable elements of a conventional NPS programme combined with the unique, key drivers of a good patient experience.

Why is Patient Experience Important?

Accenture completed a study in 2016 that showed private providers who are leaders in patient experience achieve 50% stronger margins and double revenue growth compared to those who rate poorly in the same areas.1 Further, a review by the Imperial College of London across 55 separate studies found positive associations with patient experience and clinical and operational outcomes such as drug adherence, unplanned readmissions and health promoting behaviours.2

None of these studies used NPS as the key input, they instead focussed on the core drivers of a good patient experience. Therefore it is critical that in every patient experience programme, you make sure you ask the right questions upfront. Only then, through improvement, can you be guaranteed the clinical and operational benefits that the research implies.

Finding the Right Questions.

The body of questions to ask patients is already well researched and from academic bodies such as the Picker Institute ( which are used nationally across New Zealand, Australia and beyond. Our partner Cemplicity works directly with question setters to gain licensed access and Buzz Channel ensures the questions are best set for the unique needs of each organisation and service.

We also look to employ advanced survey logic so that patients are asked for qualitative feedback on the areas they deem are most important to them. This is vital for identifying not just the what, but the how and why leading to genuine improvement. Patients appreciate the chance to say what they think and management as well as frontline staff see the feedback. That’s where the real improvement happens, and it can’t happen from a single score such as NPS.

Getting Started.

For those organisations that do a very small or limited patient experience programme, the idea of launching a significant survey on a continuous basis can feel like a significant undertaking for management, staff and the patients. The reality is that there are tools such as Cemplicity that are specially configured to deliver surveys and deliver improvement.

Many organisations start piloting with the lowest hanging fruit, often those types of patients that have the deepest involvement with your service offerings. This allows them to build support internally for the programme, by showing immediate actions and benefits and allaying fears around patient acceptance. Others take a big bang approach for an organisational-wide switch to patient engagement. Both options have their merits and Buzz Channel works with our clients to determine the best approach.

The key element is to simply just start – start asking patients the right questions, in the right way, so that providing feedback is one more step in their clinical journey in your organisation.

Talk to us about Customer Experience Management with your team Ph: 09 3798920 E:

1 Matthew Collier, Leslie Meyer Basham – Accenture: Patient Engagement: Happy Patients Happy Margins

2 Cathal Doyle, Laura Lennox, Derek Bell – Imperial College London: A systematic review of evidence on the links between patient experience and clinical safety and effectiveness