Despite having very satisfied patients, Spooner Physical Therapy, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, with 22 clinics throughout the Phoenix metropolitan area, was experiencing challenges with customer engagement and retention – like having recurring patient drop-outs that diminish patients’ functional improvement and affect the company’s revenue.
The healthcare organization needed deeper quantitative and qualitative insights into its customers’ experience to decrease patient dropout, improve health outcomes and increase revenue.
“The organization is technology-oriented and equips staff with the tools they need to deliver the best possible clinical outcomes and patient experience,” said Michelle Babcock, chief experience officer at Spooner Physical Therapy.
“However, identifying unhappy patients or acting on patient feedback in a timely manner was a challenge,” she said. “The team was distributing 1,000-2,000 patient satisfaction surveys per month after discharge, a common practice in many healthcare settings.”
However, the data the team was getting was not truly representative of the experience patients were having, Babcock insisted. Despite having 98% to 99% patient satisfaction scores, the clinics were still experiencing challenges like patient drop-out.
“Despite the fact that Spooner was consistently receiving surveys with scores, they weren’t producing the actionable data they needed to make real improvements,” she said. “There wasn’t a way to capture patient experience data in an objective, timely, actionable format. There were patients who would simply stop coming to appointments and the team was either not capturing their feedback or they were not able to act upon it quickly or in a meaningful way.”
To accomplish this, Spooner PT uses a cloud-based patient relationship management platform called WebPT Reach. The software-as-a-service technology uses data lake storage and has ISO certification for protecting and securing confidential information. WebPT Reach is part of the product portfolio of WebPT, a rehab therapy platform designed to enhance patient care and help business growth.
“For other providers considering a patient relationship management platform or clinic marketing solution, you should determine your goals upfront, and take an objective approach to track and achieve success.”
Michelle Babcock, Spooner Physical Therapy
The platform includes a Net Promoter Score tracking capability, a method of measuring patient engagement and loyalty. Spooner PT implemented Net Promoter Score tracking and automation technology to help tap into the company’s patient satisfaction and loyalty as the organization realized its current satisfaction surveys were not producing actionable data. The company implemented Net Promoter Score at all 22 clinics.
“WebPT Reach was chosen as the patient relationship management platform because it incorporates Net Promoter Score tracking and can be implemented through automation,” Babcock explained. “As such, providers are more consistent with asking patients to fill it out, and patients were more willing to complete it. The benefit of tracking Net Promoter Score versus a patient satisfaction survey is that Net Promoter Score is captured in a timely, objective, actionable way.”
Organizations that measure only patient satisfaction often experience a significant ceiling effect, she stated. In other words, they have relatively high scores that do not necessarily reflect their customers’ true experience, she explained.
“That’s because traditional satisfaction surveys are conducted in-clinic and at discharge, which can lead to sampling and environmental biases,” she said. “Furthermore, most satisfaction surveys are not sensitive enough to capture meaningful differences between patient scores. Net Promoter Score, on the other hand, is specifically designed to garner a wealth of valuable loyalty.”
Spooner Physical Therapy chose to take a multi-faceted approach to understand the patient experience combining Net Promoter Score tracking with a secret shopper program, she added.
“The approach took into account patient engagement, patient satisfaction and revenue cycles and also leveraged technology to make data collection a seamless experience for the Spooner Physical Therapy team,” she said.
There are many patient relationship management platforms on the health IT market. Some of the vendors of these systems include CareCloud, Demandforce, Luma Health, Mend, Pega for Healthcare, Salesforce, TelASK, Ventive and WELL.
MEETING THE CHALLENGE
The Spooner clinic management team, advised by the WebPT team, started at the ground level to fully understand the patient journey from “couch to claim.” To do that effectively, they implemented a secret shopper program to intimately understand how they were delivering care.
The project team visited clinics as “patients” to experience the entire patient journey. From the very beginning of the process of finding a clinic, to checking in, filling out forms and setting up payment, all the way through actual treatment, they went deep into the experience to understand the mindset of a patient. By doing so, they were able to gather insights about the touchpoints for patients and where potential improvements could be made.
“Coupled with the qualitative data from the secret shopping program, Spooner Physical Therapy used the patient relationship management platform,” Babcock said. “The platform includes Net Promoter Score survey and reporting capabilities and houses that data in one centralized location, which also integrates with the WebPT EHR, Clinicient.”
Spooner Physical Therapy implemented Net Promoter Score tracking and automation to help tap into patient satisfaction and loyalty. Because Net Promoter Score is only one question, it is a streamlined process to report on a wealth of actionable data that is used to improve the patient experience, ensure better outcomes, minimize patient dropout and increase patient volume, Babcock said.
“By tracking the full patient experience, Spooner now is able to see which patients are satisfied and dissatisfied in real time based on their Net Promoter Score responses,” she said. “Staff members can then address individual patient concerns immediately, identify trends, and work to keep patients engaged throughout their entire treatment plan.”
Since implementing the patient relationship management strategy and using it to rebuild the patient experience tracking process, Spooner Physical Therapy has been able to identify problems before they become detrimental to the health of the patient and clinic, she added. Additionally, feedback comments from patients are shared with staff, and positive comments are particularly rewarding and energizing for staff members to hear, she said.
Spooner Physical Therapy is continuing to use the platform to collect, house and analyze data. In addition to enabling the team to collect and act upon valuable feedback from patients through Net Promoter Score tracking, the platform also provides technology with marketing automation capabilities.
“Now, instead of manually sending thousands of emails each month, their system automates the process and patients receive their evaluation forms, which has freed up care providers to spend more time with patients and ensures the results are collected and tracked over time,” Babcock explained.
“As a result, over the past three years, patient reactivations have more than doubled, resulting in $306,000 in added revenue, and the organization added an additional $234,000 in potential retention revenue,” she said.
Additionally, she said, since implementing the secret shopper program, Net Promoter Score tracking, and automation, Spooner realized an improved Net Promoter Score from 79 to 90 reflecting an improved patient experience and patient loyalty.
ADVICE FOR OTHERS
“For other providers considering a patient relationship management platform or clinic marketing solution, you should determine your goals upfront, and take an objective approach to track and achieve success,” Babcock advised. “As a team, collaborate on benchmarks and performance indicators around customer experience – via Net Promoter Score and patient feedback – patient outcomes and financials.”
Additionally, it is essential to practice data transparency within the organization if one wants to effect meaningful change, she added.
“Net Promoter Score and patient loyalty data shouldn’t be shared strictly with the management team but disseminated to all staff,” she stated. “When armed with feedback data – both positive and negative – providers are empowered to take action to improve the patient experience.”
However, one should understand that there is more to the patient experience than data, she said. It is important to put oneself in the patient’s shoes to fully understand the end-to-end experience, she added. When empathy is coupled with evidence, one can make great improvements to the practice, she concluded.
Email the writer: [email protected]
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.
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