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A Holistic Approach to Mapping a Healthcare Customer Journey

The differentiators for hospitals to succeed is found in increasing customer satisfaction through understanding the customer touch points and identifying opportunities for improvement by analyzing the patient journey map.

Sutherland Labs’ Director of Design Research, Gemma Boguslawski, mapped the customer experience at a New Jersey hospital chain. She and a team of ethnographers set out to answer a single question—how do customers want a hospital to handle their first few minutes?

The team took a holistic approach at examining the customer experience journey including the environment, people, process and artifacts—and of course, the overall patient experience.

In observing and speaking to nearly 100 patients and employees, the study led to key insights related to billing, registration, financial aid and future scenarios.

For billing, there was a greater than anticipated willingness on the side of the patient to discuss money up front. We discovered that patients want the overall experience to be focused on health, they also want to make the most informed decisions they can.

The team compared various check-in and check-out areas around the hospital and created a guide for future experience designs. One focus of the guide was the need for staff to welcome patients while respecting privacy for interactions with individuals.

Future scenarios were also considered based on technology trends we’re seeing in other fields. Some options that align with the evolution of healthcare consumerism, include developing user-friendly patient portals, mobile services and cost estimating tools.

The tedious task of deconstructing just the first few minutes of a patient’s hospital visit inspired countless opportunities for improvement to increase customer satisfaction by leveraging healthcare process transformation throughout an entire hospital stay.

By leveraging Sutherland’s design thinking and patient journey mapping, health systems can revamp their patient experience and increase customer satisfaction. By implementing significant process improvements to multiple touch points of the patient experience, health systems can raise their patient satisfaction scores.