Blog | Healthcare

How to Build a Customer Journey Map for Digital Healthcare

Customer journey maps help to offer a more positive experience to consumers. Follow our key steps and factors to include in your customer journey map.

JULY 12, 2017

As healthcare transitions to the new reality of value-based care, companies are turning to journey mapping to enable their clients to offer a more positive experience to their healthcare consumers.

At its simplest a customer journey map is a graphic that shows the steps customers go through when engaging with a provider’s products or services. Whether it’s choosing a new health plan or visiting a clinic for an outpatient appointment, there are huge benefits for any business if their customers – in this case, patients -- have a stress-free, positive experience.

The journey map is built around three key factors:

  1. Touchpoints: the places where consumer/patients come into contact with a service provider

  2. Positives: outcomes leaving the consumer/patient feeling good about the experience

  3. Pain Points: places of friction where the consumer/patient experience does not go smoothly.

A good journey map will strategically place touchpoints and eliminate or minimize pain points, thereby maximizing positives. While it’s true that some journey maps can be designed using colored Post-It notes, healthcare organizations are increasingly turning to data analytics to enable them to be more strategic in mapping those experiences.

The Persona Plays a Starring Role

All journey maps are based on a persona. Sometimes, the persona will be described in detail with a persona card and journey map working in tandem. Journey maps may even combine the persona and journey map into a single view. Sometimes the persona might not be fully built out, but only conceptually considered. Personas are key players in the healthcare journey and it’s a good idea to gain an understanding of the role they play.

Journey maps for consumer/patients depend on data – lots of data. The more data points that can be pulled from the greatest number of customers, the better the picture provided of what they like and dislike. Creating data-supported road maps leads to patient dashboards, which then allow collection of more feedback for design refinement.

Three Factors for Any Map…

In addition to using data analytics, Sutherland Labs and Sutherland have identified three key customer/patient factors for the mapping process: 

  1. Create robust customer personas by developing a behavior-based qualitative research approach using techniques like interviews, diary studies, and ethnographic film making

  2. Use a variety of media (online, mobile etc.) to deliver information, services, and follow-up, not just to customer but also to their support network (family, care givers etc.)

  3. Offer more personalized services and the ability for customers and patients to be able to use interactive tools to customize technology that improves the patient experience, reducing customer effort, and increasing customer satisfaction.

The key to journey mapping is consultation and visualization, focusing on a consumer/patient experience that is both better for them and works for the provider to drive deeper engagement.

It’s about a realignment from internally focused to externally focused and patient-facing, which is a challenge that faces the entire healthcare sector.

Journey Maps Can Enhance a Variety of Functions

Marketing, clinical, and patient experience teams can benefit from healthcare journey maps. In marketing they focus on the phases when people are healthcare consumers searching the best care options. Clinical and patient experience teams are involved in the treatment phases. All too often, however, the post-treatment phase is ignored. This is a huge opportunity and loss for both patients and health systems. It shouldn’t be overlooked.

In the final analysis, journey maps are about creating a seamless connection across all touchpoints, over and over, to develop a better healthcare consumer and patient experience and loyal customers/patients for years to come.

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