Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
Key Performance Indicators & the Patient Experience

Key Performance Indicators & the Patient Experience

Texas Tech Physicians is concerned about many things, but for the purpose of this column I will discuss the five things that we know as “Key Performance Indicators” or KPIs. Most of us are familiar with the KPIs, but we have new people and it never hurts to review and to explain the logic of why we have them. They include these concepts—solid financial performance, mutual respect and making this a great place to work (or put another way—employee satisfaction), quality, business development, and creating a positive patient experience.

To achieve the KPIs, we use a “balance scorecard approach” made famous by two Harvard Business School professors, Robert Kaplan and David Norton. The idea combines financial and no-financial measurements to facilitate the fulfillment of the vision for the enterprise.  In other words, it is not just about the “almighty dollar.”   (If you are interested in the topic, search Google for it because there is more to their concepts than I can cover in this column.)

These days, a medical practice has to be balanced.  Problems in any one area—financial, quality, market share and so forth—can be devastating.  Furthermore, first-rate medical care involves more than just helping the patient get well; it also entails the overall patient experience. So it is essential to understand the patients' level of satisfaction with not only their treatment, but with all aspects of the experience.   

It is well known that Texas Tech Physicians uses Press Ganey to gather data on how we are doing. 

In 2019, you will see renewed emphasis on improving the patient experience. Why is the patience experience important to Texas Tech Physicians? From a business perspective, there are several reasons to strive to create the best patient experience possible, including: 

  • It is the right thing to do.  Don’t short-change this one.  When we are sick, we are vulnerable and maybe just a bit irritable.  It happens to all of us.  We want to be treated kindly and professionally when we are in that state. Others do too! It fits our value of being “kindhearted,” BTW.
  • It builds loyalty. In today's ultra-competitive health care environment, patients have a choice.  We want them to choose us.  To quote Southwest Airlines: “We know you have a choice when you fly and we thank you for choosing Southwest.”  We should, first of all, realize that most (not all) of our patients have a choice, and then thank them in word and deed for choosing Texas Tech Physicians. We serve all patients. Commercial patients help us have a margin so we can serve all. 
  • It may even be required in some third-party contracts.  As we continue to move to value based care, we see more patient experience requirements and we know that CMS is big on the concept.
  • It attracts new patients. We need new patients to serve and help. Word of mouth is still the best form of advertising. I hear from certain people that more people look on the internet for ratings on doctors and comments and use that information to select a physician.  More often when I ask people how they learned about and selected their doctor they say, “My neighbor used him,” or “She delivered my best friend’s baby and she thinks that doctor hung the moon.” Satisfied patients of Texas Tech Physicians will tell others about their experiences, which helps us attract new patients.  (Note—studies show that dissatisfied patients will tell even more people.  Ouch!) I’m not saying ratings and comments on the internet are not important and should not be watched and curated. They are, and you will see increased attention on our website and social media in 2019 presence.

 Finally, it can improve clinical outcomes. Studies report a direct correlation between patient satisfaction and the effectiveness of treatment. Maybe it’s as simple as a doctor and his or her staff going out of their way to make your experience pleasant; you are more compliant. Maybe the studies are flawed, but it has a ring of truth to it. Closely related is the concept in medical literature that patients who are satisfied with the level of care provided are less likely to sue if they experience an unsatisfactory clinical outcome. I listed that last because I don’t think we should run around being scared of being sued all the time, but  it is likely that a person who has had a good overall experience is less inclined to sue over a clinical issue.  Again, of course, this is not always true.

Hopefully, these are some things to think about.  For now, I wish you Happy Holidays.