The healthcare system faces constant challenges due to different priorities, budget restrictions, and limited supplies. Along with this, they also need to ensure a positive patient experience by increasing healthcare quality.
Healthcare is a complex system; hence, the fundamental step is to provide information to the patients that they can easily understand and actively participate in the treatment process.
For healthcare organizations, patient experience and engagement are often a differentiating factor between hospitals. Understanding patient experience through every stage of their care helps hospitals improve overall patient experience and internal communication. This is where patient journey mapping comes in. Patient journey mapping is essential in identifying the shortfalls in your patient experience and understanding your patients’ needs better.
What is Patient Journey Mapping?
Patient journey mapping works to identify and understand the details of all patient touch points within a specific healthcare experience. When done correctly, patient journey maps make it easier for you to identify pain points, discover opportunities, and re-align treatment and care approaches across the entire healthcare system.
The healthcare customer journey map represents a patient’s journey while receiving healthcare. The healthcare journey mapping helps the healthcare professionals to see from the patient’s point of view and modify the healthcare approach.
Patients’ healthcare journey mapping helps to visualize highs, lows, and blind spots in end to end patient engagement cycle. Understanding the patients’ clinical and emotional journey can help you build a holistic view of what your patient is going through during this period.
Healthcare journey mapping will help to find answers to the questions, for example:
- What is the patient experiencing?
- How is the patient living with their newly diagnosed condition?
- What about the patient’s family and relatives?
- Which part of the healthcare organization needs improvement?
- How happy is the patient with the healthcare facility?
When done correctly, the healthcare customer journey map will make it easier for your facility to identify obstacles, discover places of improvement, and restructure intervention approaches across the entire healthcare system.
Benefits of Patient Journey Map Framework
Patient journey mapping for a hospital is an opportunity to turn your patients’ experience with the system from reactive to proactive. Engaging patients during every stage of their healthcare will help build their confidence and trust and encourage them to refer your facility to their friends and families.
Healthcare customer journey map offers advantages like:
- Exposes gaps
Patient experience map aids to expose blind spots in your system, like appointment process, hospital care, customer service etc., which can help unfold the truth that might be creating a negative experience.
When a patient is unhappy, there is a 91% chance that they won’t revisit your hospital and might typically inform nine to 15 people about your services. Therefore, the patient journey mapping plan helps find solutions per their needs and preferences.
- Improves communication
Communication is an essential tool for doctors to understand patients’ health. However, exchanging patient information and coordinating care can be a challenge and build frustration in your patients. This misalignment can be due to factors like confidentiality or incompatible systems.
The patient journey mapping template effectively sets up transparent communication between the patients and healthcare professionals. Through a patient experience map, you can easily identify the red flags in the communication system.
- Understands patients’ concerns
Most patients are unaware of the relationship between their medical condition and symptoms. A patient journey mapping template can overcome these struggles faced by your patients. In addition, the healthcare journey mapping template helps to understand their issues and educate them about their diagnosis.
- Supports patients during the post-treatment stage
After a healthcare professional diagnoses the patient, they suggest treatment. After receiving the treatment, patients have to live with the new lifestyle, including medications, physical therapy, counseling, etc.
Healthcare journey mapping helps support patients during this post-treatment stage by monitoring their post-treatment life, identifying problems, and helping discover ways to solve these problems.
- Streamline healthcare workflow
Healthcare customer journey map will help you upgrade the usability and functionality of online patient portals, websites, and mobile apps to put more control in the patients’ hands, increase patient flow, and cut operational expenses.
Stages of Healthcare Journey Mapping
The different stages of the patient journey mapping help set an example of the intricate level of patients’ involvement in your facility. The healthcare customer journey map plan usually occurs at (but are not limited to) the following stages:
A patient’s journey starts when they begin to experience symptoms and try to research, or contact a facility via phone call, text, email, or an in-person visit.
Nearly 81% of patients prefer scheduling their appointments online. Hence, the software used should be designed in such a way that it is easy for your patient to schedule an appointment and have streamlined communication with the healthcare professionals.
- During visit
After establishing contact with the hospital, the patient sets an in-person or virtual appointment with a healthcare professional for the preliminary examination.
The patient will have the following experience in your facility:
- Checking in at the front desk
- Waiting in the lobby to be called
- Discussion with staff before speaking to a professional
- Care from healthcare professionals and staff
The diagnosis might not be a one-step process as the patient may require several tests that the healthcare professional can review and conclude.
During this stage, the patient goes through the following experiences:
- Post-care instructions
- Hospital discharge process
- Completing a feedback survey
- Paying for the treatment
- Post-surgery calls from the nurse or doctor
The patient might have to stay in your facility for the treatment process or receive home care. Healthcare professionals may overlook this stage, especially when the patient is receiving home care or is responding well to the treatment.
How to Create Patient Journey Map for Superior Healthcare Experiences
To create and implement a practical patient experience map, you must understand the patient’s service. Without entirely understanding their patients, you may find it challenging to fill the gaps in your system.
Define the goals and the scope of the patient journey mapping plan
The first step for any organization should be defining their goals and scope and beginning with the healthcare journey mapping for a hospital. To understand the goals and scope, you can create a list of questions like:
- What are the key points this organization needs to tackle?
- What are the expected results or end goals the organization wishes to achieve by using a healthcare customer journey map?
By defining the goals and scope and answering these questions, you can ensure everyone is on the same page. This step is the key to success as the organizations can measure the progress being made to reach their end goals.
To begin their mapping journey, you should also understand the concept of a healthcare journey mapping plan by conducting tremendous research and hiring an expert to guide your organization through the mapping process.
Map the patient touchpoints
Patient touchpoints include where and how your patient interacts with your facility and their experiences. This process will consist of all the stages of the patient journey mapping, for example, pre-visit, visit, treatment, and post-visit stages.
Touchpoints will make up most of the patient journey mapping of a hospital. Therefore, as you conduct patient experience map research and note their touchpoints, it is essential that you also include the potential challenges and the patient’s emotional state.
Once you define different patient touchpoints, you can arrange them on the patient experience map.
Make use of technology and tools to automate parts of the healthcare customer journey map
It is essential that you actively involve and support your patients in decision-making. This might seem a straightforward task; however, with a complex healthcare system, it becomes necessary to automate certain parts of the patient journey.
Automation can be achieved using tools and technology, which can act as a front door to your organization to achieve desired outcomes, such as patient compliance and satisfaction, and efficiency.
You can use digital engagement tools in various parts of a patient journey like:
- Appointment booking
- Appointment reminders
- Medicine reminders
- Follow-up scheduling
- Collecting patient feedback
With digital patient engagement tools, you can expand your reach, reduce manual workload, and keep the patients better informed.
Create a patient communication plan across each stage of patient journey mapping
An effective patient communication plan helps eliminate the barriers between your organization and patients and ensure that every person involved in the care process is well-informed about the patient.
The patient communication plan must include hardware and software to improve the performance of the organizations. To create an effective patient communication plan, you must:
- Analyze the current communication system
- Encourage internal discussions
- Adopt more recent communication technologies
- Train the healthcare staff about the more recent technologies
- Monitor the effectiveness of the more recent communication technologies.
Collect patient feedback for continuous improvement in the healthcare journey map
The most insightful data any healthcare organization can collect is getting feedback from their patients, who have interacted with the organization. You can look out for information like:
- What was the initial experience of the patient?
- How easy or difficult was it for the patient to use the organization’s app/website?
- What problems initially encountered by the patients are not solved?
By collecting patient feedback, you can make data-driven decisions for your patients and the organization and make continuous improvements.
Moving forward with a healthcare journey map
Despite years of expertise, it’s easy for the healthcare system to face persistent issues in the patient care process. It’s about uncovering in-depth insights via journey maps and translating them into actionable strategies to bridge the gap between emerging patient needs and the present state of the organization.
Once on the right track, the organizations can manage and grow relationships at every step of patient care. The more patient-centric an organization becomes, the better their experience builds, leading to a higher quality of patient care, retention, loyalty, and improved well-being.