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How To Get More Patient Referrals - Net Promotor Score

How To Get More Patient Referrals - Net Promotor Score

How to Get More Patient Referrals - Net Promotor Score

Like most health care systems, you're constantly seeking ways to generate more patient referrals. Recently, there's been a lot of buzz about the popular Net Promotor Score (NPS) to measure how likely patients will refer others to your hospital. In this post, we'll walk you through the NPS and explain how you might use this metric to bring in more patients.

How to Get More Patient Referrals

As long as the health care industry has existed, the number one way providers have grown their practices is through patient referrals—both in-person and, more recently, online. But the million-dollar question is this: what makes one patient refer to your practice over another?

This question drove American business strategist Fred Reichheld in 2001 to invent the Net Promoter Score (NPS), a widely used industry metric that measures customer satisfaction and loyalty. A simple survey-based metric, NPS, is calculated by asking customers how likely they will recommend a company's products or services to a friend or family member on a scale of 1 to 10.

Reichheld developed the NPS to help companies better understand and track customer satisfaction. Long a believer that customer loyalty was a critical driver of business growth, Reichheld sought to create a simple yet powerful metric that could measure and track the nuances of a customer's experience and satisfaction with a product or service. The NPS has since become one of the most popular customer satisfaction metrics in the economy today. Companies across industries use the NPS to gauge customer sentiment and track changes over time.

While retailers were the early adopters of NPS, the NPS scoring system is an excellent tool for other businesses to deploy in other major industries like health care. In the fast-changing and highly competitive health care industry, a metric like the NPS offers providers significant insight into their value propositions and can potentially earn them a competitive edge with more referrals.

Patient Satisfaction in Health Care

Patient satisfaction remains a top priority and an essential indicator of the quality of care, measuring how well a health care organization meets the needs and expectations of its patients. Studies have shown that patients who are generally satisfied with their care are more likely to take their medications as prescribed, follow up with their doctors, and achieve better health outcomes. Additionally, patients with higher satisfaction are more likely to recommend their health care provider to their families and friends.

The most important factors that contribute to patient satisfaction include the following:

  • The quality of the facilities
  • The competence of the staff
  • The ability to make appoints online
  • The availability of services
  • The overall atmosphere of the facility
  • The customer service practices

What Determines Patient Satisfaction?

But what exactly determines whether a patient is satisfied with their care? It could be the quality of the medical treatment they receive. It could be the way the staff treats them. It could also be environmental factors like the cleanliness of the facility or the convenience of appointment times. Research suggests that patient satisfaction is likely a combination of all these factors.

The natural result is that patients will continue returning for care and recommend the facility to others, underscoring why it's crucial for health care providers to do everything they can to ensure their patients are happy with their experience.

To ensure high levels of patient satisfaction, healthcare organizations must continuously monitor their processes and adjust their operations as needed. By taking this proactive approach to customer satisfaction, providers can offer high-quality care that meets the needs of their patients.

How Do Patients Communicate Patient Satisfaction?

Esteban Kolsky, principal and founder of ThinkJar, says that 72% of customers share good experiences with six or more people.

If a customer has a bad experience, however, 13% of them will tell 15 or more people.

These insights reveal an interesting problem: customers usually will not tell you when they're unhappy. Only one in 26 unhappy customers will likely complain to the company. Unfortunately, this makes it extremely difficult for some medical practices to respond effectively.

When it comes to giving positive or negative word-of-mouth feedback, some patients communicate their patient satisfaction in the following ways:

  • Talking to friends, family, and neighbors
  • Writing online reviews
  • Providing testimonials to the health care organization
  • Sharing their experience on social media

Providers must capture both types of feedback as this will enable them to improve the patient's overall quality of care. Patient satisfaction remains an important measure of health care quality. Therefore, hospitals and other health organizations must continuously work to improve patient experiences and constantly monitor their online reputation.

Intuitive Health – Built On The Patient Experience

Early in his medical career, Jay Woody, MD, FACEP, ABEM, co-founder of Legacy ER & Urgent Care and chief medical officer of Intuitive Health, quickly realized the reality of the patient experience in the emergency room setting. While he had the opportunity to serve patients, he recognized that other critical needs were often ignored in these environments.

A focus on the patient experience was lacking due to the healthcare industry's growing complexities and politics. One contributing factor was the high volume of patients visiting the ER with non-emergent conditions. Not only did this trend contribute to inappropriate ER utilization rates, but patients were responsible for paying higher ER bills, causing them to leave generally unsatisfied with their experiences.

Additionally, Dr. Woody realized that few people within the hospital system were genuinely interested in addressing this problem or improving the patient experience.

Dr. Woody saw an opportunity and immediately mobilized his insights and experiences to found Intuitive Health, an organization dedicated to a clear mission: creating a provider model that fully addresses patients' needs, improves ER utilization rates, prevents patients from paying high medical costs, and focuses on quality of service. Dr. Woody realized his vision in 2008 by establishing Intuitive Health's first dual ER and urgent care system, Legacy ER & Urgent Care.

Its success was immediate, serving as a model for the health care industry and transforming the medical landscape to offer emergency and non-emergency services under one roof.

When patients need health care, ER-trained physicians examine them and determine whether they need emergency department services or urgent care services. Patients must also consent before receiving ER services typically billed higher than urgent care services. As a result, patients in the urgent care category never have to worry about unexpected ER pricing.

This one-stop-shop approach removes the fee-for-service model from the equation. It allows providers to focus on the health care experience, delivering value and retail-based health care.

How Do You Measure Patient Satisfaction?

Patient satisfaction serves an essential role for health care providers, helping them identify areas of improvement and to gain valuable feedback on the quality of their care. By understanding how patients feel about their care, providers can make significant strides toward improving their quality of care.

The most common ways to measure patient satisfaction include surveys, interviews, and focus groups. Surveys such as the Net Promoter Score (NPS) are often used to collect data from large numbers of patients and can be administered online or in person. While interviews allow for a more in-depth conversation with patients and can be conducted over the phone or in person, focus groups serve as another reliable option for providers looking to gather patient feedback. These groups usually involve around 8 to 10 patients who meet to discuss their experiences with a particular health care provider.

What Is The Net Promoter Score?

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a real-time measure of customer satisfaction and has become a popular metric for businesses in recent years.

The NPS is a customer satisfaction metric that measures how likely customers will recommend a company's products or services to others. As a simple metric, the NPS is calculated by asking customers to rate their level of satisfaction on a scale from 0 to 10 and then subtracting the percentage of customers who are "detractors" (those who score 0 to 6) from the percentage of customers who are "promoters" (those who score 9 to 10). The resulting number is the Net Promoter Score, ranging from -100 to 100.

Despite its simplicity, the NPS has become one of the world's most popular customer satisfaction metrics. One reason is its ability to capture customer loyalty and predict future growth for companies across industries, including health care. The NPS, for example, can measure patient satisfaction with doctors, hospitals, emergency rooms, urgent care facilities, and other health care providers.

The NPS remains a vital customer satisfaction metric for health care organizations because it provides a quantifiable way to measure patient satisfaction. Additionally, the NPS can benchmark an organization's performance against other healthcare organizations. Given patient satisfaction's importance in health care, the NPS is an essential must-have tool for measuring and improving patient care.

How Net Promoter Score Works

The NPS survey is usually sent via email or within a company's mobile app and starts with a 1-to-5-star rating system. Once clicked, some brands will follow up with additional questions about the experience; some offer giveaway incentives or free rewards for participating in the survey.

Typically, the customer or patient will receive the NPS survey the same day they visit a facility.

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Why Is The NPS Important To Health Care?

NPS is simple, versatile, and straightforward with a direct question: "How likely are you to recommend our business to a friend or colleague?" Think of NPS as a word-of-mouth (WOM) index in the most simplistic terms.

"Word-of-Mouth is the most effective patient acquisition tool available because it's an organic endorsement of your practice from a real person. It's more believable than any marketing or advertising you could do, and it carries more weight because it's coming from a friend or family member," said David Apple, chief marketing officer for Intuitive Health. "People are likelier to take action if they're referred by someone they know and trust. So, suppose you can get your patients to talk about their experience at your practice with their friends and family. In that case, you'll acquire new patients organically and strengthen your relationships with your current patients."

Some important WOM statistics to consider:

How Intuitive Health Uses NPS

Intuitive Health was founded after Dr. Woody recognized a deep flaw in emergency room patient satisfaction. Patients were not being treated as they deserved and were overcharged for ER services that could have been treated at the urgent care level.

With these insights and provider experiences, Intuitive Health created its hybrid ER and urgent care model. Many health systems across the United States use this model to deliver quality care and listen to patients' needs and wants. Intuitive Health began using the Net Promoter Score early on, with patient satisfaction on their priority list.

What Intuitive Health discovered is simple yet profound: the NPS allows every staff member to review real-time data (from complaints to compliments), evaluate operations, and make necessary changes to serve its communities better.

This system has helped Intuitive Health to expand quickly while delivering on its promise of quality, convenient health care.

At the end of every visit, patients are asked to fill out the NPS survey. NPS is now available at every location where Intuitive Health operates with its partner health systems, providing patients an opportunity to be honest, and authentic, and instilling a high level of patient trust.

Intuitive Health's NPS today is 82 based on a scoring system of -100 to 100.

What Does Intuitive Health Do with NPS Data?

Every patient at an Intuitive Health facility receives the NPS survey after their visit, providing the company with a real-time view of their operations and quality of care. Because the automated NPS email is sent to every patient, the survey captures patient experiences 365 days a year.

The Net Promoter Score allows Intuitive Health to assess itself based on real-time third-party feedback. If there are issues or concerns, the information from the NPS survey can be addressed immediately with the appropriate team and patient.

On the other hand, when positive scores are received, it allows Intuitive Health to inform the facility team that they are doing a great job. The NPS also indicates that the team provides exceptional customer service and focuses on delivering value to patients.

Why Some Health Systems Are Reluctant To Use NPS?

Despite the popularity of the NPS, there are several reasons why patient feedback may not be integrated into health care decision-making:

  1. Lack of Processes: Many health systems lack a process for effectively collecting and using patient feedback. According to a recent study by the nonprofit Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute, only about 15% of hospitals have any formal process for receiving and processing patient feedback.
  2. Complexity: Health systems are very complex organizations with numerous silos and decision-makers, making it challenging to get feedback into the hands of the right people.
  3. Timeliness: When the right person is aware of a particular issue, too much time has passed to make a difference.
  4. Robust Data: Many health systems lack robust data on patients' perspectives and experiences, making it unclear where and how to start collecting or using feedback.
  5. Ambiguity: Some health care providers believe patients only give feedback when they're prompted to do so. And when they are prompted, they may be vague or inarticulate in providing helpful information. As a result, health care providers often end up with a lot of "noise" in the data, making it difficult to make changes.

The research is clear: one of the best ways to get more patient referrals is to increase your health system's Net Promoter Score. You can improve your NPS by providing exceptional customer service and focusing on delivering value to your patients.

Here are a few helpful tips you can follow to help you increase your NPS:

  1. Make the survey easy for patients.
  2. Send the NPS within 24 hours of the patient's visit
  3. Allow every staff member access to the NPS data
  4. Address patient concerns received from NPS promptly
  5. Follow up with patients quickly

As long as health care has been around, referrals have been instrumental for customer growth, improved care, and a positive patient experience. With a proven track record, the Net Promoter Score remains invaluable for measuring how likely your existing patients will refer their friends and family to your health system. Utilizing the NPS should be at the top of your list if you're looking for ways to get more patient referrals and drive future growth.

Want to learn more about Intuitive Health and how we can help you improve your patient satisfaction scores? Contact us today for a free consultation. We'd love to hear from you!

To learn more about Intuitive Health's dual ER and urgent care model, visit For health systems who want to learn more about partnership opportunities, learn more at or connect with us at