“Why is delivering patient-centered care so challenging?” you might ask. The answer is that the healthcare journey has its specifics. You cannot treat patients like customers. They require a different approach. And this is where healthcare journey mapping comes in handy. How? Read this article to find out the benefits of this methodology.
Benefit #1: Learning who your patients are
It’s tempting to believe that patients are customers and adopt the same approach as online and offline stores do. But that’s the wrong way to go. Unlike customers, patients often have little to no choice, and they also have less control over the situation and feel vulnerable.
All this makes their journey different from the ones in any other industry. By visualizing their journeys step by step, you will start empathizing with patients and will know who they are for sure. Besides, you will have patient profiles (or personas), which will contain all the critical information about the people you serve. You will be able to refer to these profiles when needed and show them to your colleagues and management.
Benefit #2: Getting to know the real journey
A part of the healthcare journey map, built in UXPressia
You might have a specific vision of the journey that patients have with your medical facility. But how close is it to their actual experience? Without having a clear picture of their experience, you won’t ensure that your patients’ journey is smooth and make human-centricity an everyday reality.
With the help of healthcare journey mapping, you will be able to understand and evaluate every episode of patient experience with your medical facility. Healthcare journeys have multiple touchpoints and involve numerous interactions and many stakeholders. With a healthcare journey map, you will know and consider all the parties involved, their relations, and their interactions.
Benefit #3: Better prioritizing your healthcare decisions
The research shows that assessing patient experience contributes to the person’s condition throughout their course of treatment. So it’s a bright idea to consider your patient experience as evidence when it comes to healthcare decision-making. And there’s no better way to understand this experience than by mapping it out.
By taking a close look at the visualization of your patients’ journey, you will see what they go through, what they expect and what they get, what actions they take, what frustrates and motivates them, etc. Knowing all that, you will be able to better prioritize your decisions. Letting your patients know how their experience impacts your choices can also do you a good turn as they will feel valued and supported.
Benefit #4: Knowing what stages to focus on
As a healthcare provider, you might believe that the most important stages of your patients’ journey happen in front of your eyes — in healthcare settings where you directly interact with these people. So it’s natural for you to pay more (if not all) attention to the journey stages where the interactions take place (e.g., hospital-related stages).
But it’s also crucial to support your patients at the stages where they are left on their own. For instance, a person might spend a day or two in hospital, while their full recovery will take months. In this case, your task is to think about the possible ways to better support them at this stage.
Benefit #5: Gaining more patients
Word-of-mouth marketing can be a powerful tool in any industry, and healthcare is no exception. According to the Beryl Institute, 76% of patients will share a negative experience with others, while 70% will share a positive one. Would you choose a healthcare provider with many negative reviews? Of course, you would not. However, with a healthcare journey map in place, you will be able to detect patient experience flaws and come up with improvements that will enhance the experience and result in more positive reviews, ultimately attracting more patients. And some of your existing patients may even turn into your advocates.
Another advantage is that you will be able to develop patient-centered communication and marketing strategies. What does it mean? Your patients require different information in different formats depending on the stage they are at. So be sure to put moments of contact with them on your map and analyze what you can do differently in your marketing activities to help patients feel more in control and less vulnerable. For instance, this can be a physical activity brochure you will start sending to people who need it.
Now you know that getting the real picture of your patient experience is the first step to improving it. Healthcare journey mapping can be a valuable tool for understanding and assessing your patient experience and developing ideas for improving it. But it will work only when you use it. So remember that your mapping project doesn’t end when you create a map and conduct an ideation session or present the map to your CEO. It’s vital to act on it: turn your map into an action plan and follow it, from time to time, making sure that your map is still relevant by revising it regularly.