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15 Vital Patient Experience Metrics Healthcare Call Centers Must Track

The truth about measuring patient satisfaction

Are you drowning in a sea of patient experience data but still struggling to make meaningful improvements? You're not alone. Many healthcare organizations today are data-rich but insight-poor when it comes to truly understanding and enhancing the patient journey. Despite the high priority placed on patient experience, there is a significant gap in understanding what drives patient retention. Research from ConvIQ indicates that while 81% of healthcare executives consider improving patient experience a top priority, only 11% have a strong understanding of the factors that influence patient retention​.

As a call center leader in a healthcare organization, you may feel overwhelmed by the hundreds of patient experience metrics available, unsure of which ones really matter. Perhaps you're relying on annual consumer assessment of healthcare providers and systems (HCAHPS) surveys for a limited snapshot measure of the patient experience, or you believe that surface-level call center stats are sufficient.

The truth is, without a comprehensive view of the complete patient experience and a way to link these metrics to tangible health outcomes, it's nearly impossible to drive sustainable improvements in patient satisfaction and loyalty.

But don't despair. By focusing on the 15 most impactful patient experience metrics, you can gain the clarity and confidence needed to make strategic decisions that boost efficiency, healthcare quality, and financial performance. Let's explore three costly misconceptions about how measuring patient experience satisfaction and uncover a better way forward.

Misconception #1: HCAHPS surveys are enough.

While HCAHPS surveys provide valuable information and are widely used as quality measures, they only offer a snapshot in time from a limited sample of patients. Relying solely on this retroactive, annual assessment means you're always a step behind, reacting to issues rather than proactively preventing them. The 2023 Healthcare Experience Trends Report by Qualtrics indicates that consumer loyalty is increasingly won through personal connections rather than pure operational efficiency. The report highlights that empathetic interactions with service agents significantly enhance overall consumer satisfaction. Additionally, it was found that nearly two-thirds (63%) of consumers believe companies need to improve their listening to better address their needs​.

Misconception #2: Surface-level call center metrics tell the whole story.

Tracking basic stats like call volume, handle time, and abandonment rate is a start, but it doesn't give you true insight into the quality of the patient experience. These transactional touchpoints must be supplemented with deeper measures of patient experience: measures of patient sentiment, effort, and loyalty across the entire healthcare encounter. Chausa reports that Poor communication is identified as a leading cause of medical errors, which can result in adverse events and patient harm. Effective communication among healthcare providers is crucial for preventing avoidable outcomes and promoting patient safety, thereby enhancing patient satisfaction​.

Misconception #3: Checking the compliance box is sufficient.

Focusing health care quality almost solely on meeting minimum regulatory standards may keep you out of hot water, but it does little to actually improve patient satisfaction or deliver more patient-centered care. In today's consumer-driven healthcare industry, patients expect more than just bare-minimum service - they want effortless experiences, personalized care, and value at every interaction. A McKinsey study showed that 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they're being treated.

Why healthcare providers must take a holistic approach to measuring patient experience metrics

The key to overcoming the above pitfalls is to move healthcare research and embrace a more holistic, actionable approach to evaluating patient experience. By tracking the right patient experience metrics, you can not only understand what's happening, but why it's happening and how to intervene for maximum impact.

Imagine being able to pinpoint the single most predictive metric for patient retention or having a key performance indicator (KPI) that forecasts growth more accurately than any other. With the power of these insights, you can engage your hospital staff, redesign processes, and make targeted improvements that move the needle on patient satisfaction scores.

As consumerism continues to reshape the healthcare industry and telehealth adoption soars, it's more critical than ever to have a finger on the pulse of evolving patient expectations. Patient experience metrics can be your guide to navigate this change and emerge as a leader in delivering exceptional experiences. 

According to experts at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the implementation of performance measurement and improvement systems, including patient experience metrics, is linked to better financial outcomes for healthcare organizations. These systems help achieve the Triple Aim of improving population health, reducing costs, and enhancing the patient experience​.

15 essential patient experience metrics every healthcare call center should be tracking

Forward Looking Metrics:

1. Net Promoter Score (NPS)

- Why it's important: Predict long-term performance

- Formula: (% Promoters - % Detractors) / (Total responses) x 100

- Data Source: Surveys / Patient Feedback System

2. New patients this week/month: New patients/provider

- Why it's important: Forecast short-term performance

- Formula: New patients / Total providers

- Data Source: Practice Management System / Healthcare CRM

3. Customer Effort Score (CES)

- Why it's important: Predict patient loyalty

- Formula: Average customer effort score (scale of 1-5)

- Data Source: Surveys / Patient Feedback System

Backward Looking Metrics:

Revenue Growth

- Why it's important: Measure financial health over time

- Formula: (Current revenue - Previous revenue) / Previous revenue

- Data Source: Financial System

5. # Unique patients / month

- Why it's important: Trend reach and service capacity

- Formula: Count of distinct patient IDs

- Data Source: Practice Management System / Healthcare CRM

Operations Metrics:

6. First Contact Resolution (FCR)

- Why it's important: Improve customer service performance

- Formula: % of interactions resolved on first contact

- Data Source: Healthcare CRM

7. Time to Resolve

- Why it's important: Assess effectiveness of service operations

- Formula: Average time from interaction start to resolution

- Data Source: Healthcare CRM

8. Employee Satisfaction

- Why it's important: Improve performance through employee morale

- Formula: Average employee satisfaction score (scale of 1-5)

- Data Source: Survey / HR System

9. % new patients scheduled / total call handled per patient

- Why it's important: Measure conversion rate

- Formula: (New patients scheduled / Total calls handled) * 100

- Data Source: Healthcare CRM

10. Quality scores

- Why it's important: Agent coaching & improvement

- Formula: Average quality score (based on defined criteria)

- Data Source: Quality Monitoring System

Contact Reaction Metrics:

11. Average speed of answer

- Why it's important: Reduce patient wait times

- Formula: Average time for a call to be answered

- Data Source: Contact Center Phone System

12. Abandonment rate

- Why it's important: Reduce missed opportunities

- Formula: (Abandoned calls / Total incoming calls) * 100

- Data Source: Contact Center Phone System

13. Service level

- Why it's important: Immediate responsiveness

- Formula: % of calls answered within a defined threshold (e.g., 30 seconds)

- Data Source: Contact Center Phone System

Efficiency Metrics

14. Average Handle Time (AHT)

- Why it's important: Improve call service efficiency

- Formula: Average duration of an interaction (including after-call work)

- Data Source: Contact Center Phone System

15. Adherence Rate

- Why it's important: Measure effective management of work schedules

- Formula: % of time agents adhere to their scheduled tasks

- Data Source: Workforce Management System

To take a deeper dive into all these metrics & how to measure them, download our free eBook: "The 15 Most Important Patient Experience Metrics"

Let's examine some of these patient experience measures and why they matter so much.

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is widely considered one of the most important patient experience metrics for gauging patient loyalty and predicting growth. It's based on a simple question: "How likely are you to recommend our healthcare services to a friend or family member?" Responses are scored on a 0-10 scale, with 9-10 being "promoters," 7-8 being "passives," and 0-6 being "detractors." The final NPS is calculated by subtracting the % of detractors from the % of promoters.

Why is NPS such a powerful metric for healthcare providers? Because it cuts through the noise and gets to the heart of what really matters - whether your patients are willing to put their own reputation on the line to vouch for you. Promoters are your most loyal patients, your biggest advocates, and your best source of referrals. Detractors, on the other hand, are at high risk of churning and spreading negative word-of-mouth. By monitoring NPS and digging into the "why" behind the scores, you can identify your strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities to improve patient satisfaction.

Customer Effort Score (CES) is another critical patient experience metric that often flies under the radar. It measures how easy (or difficult) it is for patients to get their issues resolved with your healthcare facilities. The easier the experience, the higher the patient satisfaction score and retention. In fact, studies show that Customer Effort Score (CES) is crucial in predicting patient loyalty. A low effort experience increases satisfaction and retention, highlighting that making healthcare interactions easier is more predictive of loyalty than merely delighting patients​.

To calculate CES, simply ask patients, "How easy was it to get your issue resolved today?" on a scale of 1 (very difficult) to 5 (very easy). Pay close attention to the "difficult" responses and look for patterns in the types of issues, staff interactions, or processes that are driving up effort. Even small tweaks like simplifying your IVR menu, offering callback options, or empowering agents to resolve more issues on first contact can significantly improve patient satisfaction.

First Contact Resolution (FCR) is closely tied to CES and is arguably the most important operational metric for healthcare call centers. It tracks the percentage of patient inquiries that are fully resolved on the first interaction, without the need for callbacks, transfers, or escalations.

A high FCR is a win-win-win: patients are happier because they get their answers quickly, agents are more productive and confident, and the healthcare organization saves money by handling fewer repeat contacts. Aim for an FCR of at least 80%, but don't stop there—the best in class achieve 95% or higher. To boost your FCR, start by tracking it consistently, ensuring your staff have the training and resources they need, and identifying the root causes of repeat contacts.

Employee Engagement: Of course, no discussion of patient experience metrics would be complete without mentioning employee engagement. Your staff are the face of your healthcare brand and the heart of your patient experience. If they're disengaged, burnt out, or unhappy, it will come through in every patient interaction.

On the flip side, engaged employees are more productive, more passionate, and more likely to go above and beyond for patients. Gallup found that healthcare organizations with highly engaged teams outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share. So how can you measure and improve employee engagement? Start with a simple survey that asks key questions like, "Do you have the tools and resources you need to do your job well?" and "Do you feel valued and recognized for your contributions?" Share the results with your team and involve them in brainstorming solutions.

Finally, never forget about the financial impact of the patient experience! Key metrics like patient churn rate and lifetime value can help you quantify the ROI of your improvement efforts and make the case for further investment. For example, a study by Accenture found that U.S. hospitals that provide "superior" patient experiences generate 50% higher financial performance than "average" health care providers do.

Never stop refining your patient satisfaction efforts

The key to driving meaningful improvement in the patient experience is to focus on a balanced set of metrics validated measures that span the entire patient journey. By tracking the right combination of leading and lagging indicators, you can identify trends, prioritize initiatives, and measure progress over time.

But, patient outcomes and experience metrics alone aren't enough—you also need a culture of continuous improvement and a willingness to act on the insights. Start by sharing your metrics and goals with your entire team, from the front line to the C-suite. Celebrate successes along the way and use failures as learning opportunities. Most importantly, never stop listening to your patients and looking for ways to make their lives better.

Regardless of your specific strategies and tactics, the key is to approach patient experience improvement as an ongoing journey, not a one-time initiative. It requires a sustained commitment from leadership, a willingness to experiment and fail forward, and a relentless focus on the needs and preferences of your patients. By embracing this mindset and leveraging the right mix of patient experience metrics and methods, you can build a culture of patient-centered care that drives loyalty, growth, and positive health outcomes.

In a world where patients have more choices than ever, delivering an exceptional experience is no longer a nice-to-have; it's a must-have for long-term success in the healthcare industry.

So what are you waiting for? Pick up the phone, rally your team, and start measuring what matters. Your patients (and your bottom line) will thank you.

Learn more by downloading our free 37-page eBook: "The 15 Most Important Patient Experience Metrics"

 

Posted By

Stephen Dean

Stephen first built his career in information technology, working as a developer for Hewlett-Packard and several start-ups. He received his MBA from Duke before co-founding Keona Health, where he manages all facets of finance, marketing, and operations.

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