The importance of customer journey mapping for digital healthcare

Sutherland Editorial

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 its choosing a new health plan or visiting a clinic for an outpatient appointment, there are huge benefits for any business if their customers have a stress-free, positive experience.

The journey map is built around three key factors:

  1. Touchpoints: the places where consumers come into contact with a service provider;
  2. Positives: outcomes leaving the consumer feeling good about the experience;
  3. Pain points: places of friction where the consumer 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, companies are increasingly turning to data analytics to enable them to be more strategic in mapping those experiences.

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.

In addition to using data analytics, Sutherland Labs and Sutherland have identified three key customer needs 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 filmmaking;
  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, trying to arrive at a “future-state” customer experience that is both better for them and that works for the service provider by enabling brands to drive deeper engagement.

All that is required is a realignment from being internally-focused to being externally-focused and consumer-facing, the same challenge that faces the entire healthcare sector.