How valuable is NPS in healthcare_

Published on 08 Aug 2019

I continue to be fascinated by how the Net Promotor Score (NPS) is used by organisations, let alone captured.

(I’m still never going to press a smiley face outside an airport toilet!)

The NPS principle developed by Bains & Co over 15 years ago was designed to bring in a non-financial customer metric for organisations to measure customer loyalty, use the feedback to develop products, improve service delivery, and essentially get a handle on what your customers - and future customers - think of your organisation’s customer service.

Each industry has different benchmarks. Banks and insurance have a low NPS benchmark while tech companies like Apple and Amazon have high NPS benchmarks.

Healthcare, however, presents a further interesting set of challenges.

Detractors 0-6, passives 7-8 and promoters 9-10

Can NPS be a true measure of the healthcare industry?

Let’s think about your experience when you go through a health procedure and you leave the hospital, go home and wait for the healing to occur - which is often the case.

You may have had a fantastic experience with the admissions team, your anaesthetist may have told good jokes, and you think the surgeon had a reasonable manner – so will you hit the smiley face?

You probably should. And if you are asked at this point, your score is unlikely to be reflective of your actual health outcome and solely on the service received – which is what NPS should be.

However, if you get an infection or the procedure is not effective, (always a risk in medicine), then the health outcome will not be achieved, and you’d be more inclined to indicate a negative experience – even though you were very happy with the service you received at the time.

This is a real challenge in the industry.

I have seen feedback from injured workers who say they would never recommend our rehab services as they would not want someone to ever need them.

This is a fair point but not the point of the question.

This score is not a reflection of the work our Consultant has performed, except perhaps their need to better explain the purpose of the questionnaire to the injured worker.

Healthcare does seem to invoke more passion in NPS than other industries.

Followed by consumer electronics, hotels and travel, according to Accenture’s Global Consumer Pulse Research.

Healthcare is a very personal service which we do and should care very much about, so the risk in measuring NPS in health is that the user will have higher expectations – it’s all about 'me' after all.

Interestingly, physiotherapy generally receives much higher NPS scores than other healthcare services.

Possibly due to the immediate relief it can provide.

Not the only metric

In isolation there is risk in using any single metric to measure business performance.

Remembering NPS is customer experience and adding health outcome will give a much more balanced view on true performance.

As a buyer it is important to note an NPS score is only one metric, and not necessarily reflective of the outcome you may get as a buyer or user. And of course it can be easily gamed.

I see organisations in our industry using the NPS score as the single metric of success widely pushed through social media.

But ultimately the buyer must make a decision on trust.

Who was surveyed? Who was excluded? When was the survey run? Why?

The simple act of excluding a client group can dramatically change scores.

The most successful organisations use the system not just the score, and this is the true value of the Net Promotor Score system.

Having live customer feedback and implementing this into your business systems and processes for continuous improvement will ultimately drive success and greater customer performance.

Though I can also admit that health professionals love the feedback!

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