Let’s get candid for a minute … do you ever feel torn between wanting to stay on top of the latest healthcare marketing trends and feeling like you’re one more buzzword away from your head exploding? If you answered, “Yes” before finishing the sentence, your secret is safe with us. And relax, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed. You’re working in an industry that in ways is lagging behind others and is moving fast to catch up.
Unfortunately, healthcare’s innovation lag amplifies consumers’ and patients’ frustration with their healthcare experience. They’re measuring their experience interacting with your brand against 30 of the happiest, most care-free seconds of their life zipping through Chick-fil-A’s drive-thru. And they got fried chicken, waffle fries and maybe even a milkshake out of the deal!
And while we know the healthcare experience will never be as sweet and smooth as a trip to Chick-fil-A, the times are requiring you to strive to get your patient experience as close to these expectations as possible. Your feelings of frustration are completely valid, but the truth is, negative patient experiences are making your job harder, hurting your organization’s bottom line and, most importantly, getting in the way of people getting the care they need.
If there’s one trend that is really worth wrapping your brain around to combat patient expectations, it’s patient journey mapping. We’ll show you the ropes and give you some easy tips for getting started.
What is Patient Journey Mapping?
Patient journey mapping is a business practice that sheds light on what patients experience throughout the course of their care. And this journey starts before patients even step foot inside your hospital and continues long after they leave. It involves illustrating the current patient journey and objectively sketching out what an ideal journey looks like.
But patient journey mapping isn’t just about white boards and dry-erase markers or Microsoft SmartArt. It’s all about diving deep to understand the patient experience, and ultimately making it better.
As you know, your patients’ perception of your organization is your brand. So learning about the patient experience is pretty powerful.
It allows us to identify gaps between patients’ desired experiences and real experiences, called pain points. Common pain points for patients include:
- Access issues
- Lack of directions to facilities
- Long wait times
- Lengthy hospital stays
- Complicated hospital bills and a payment process that doesn’t offer the option to conveniently pay online
Addressing pain points with operational solutions can be a patient experience game changer and even lead to efficiency that saves your organization money. Solutions include:
- Real-time online appointment scheduling
- Wayfinding apps that give patients turn-by-turn directions from their location within your hospital to their scheduled appointment
- Online bill payment portals with a redesigned hospital bill
Certain factors that we cannot control also influence the patient experience and the perception of healthcare organizations, which threaten brand image. These factors include healthcare consumerism and millennials’ needs.
Companies like Amazon and Apple aren’t only disrupting the landscape by changing the status quo through telemedicine; they’re also competing with healthcare organizations for market share.
Not only are millennials challenging us to stay current and social. But also their need for instant gratification puts them on the hunt for providers who will get them in and address their health problems quicker.
And chances are that they’re searching right from your very own waiting room. Learn more about millennials, medicine, and marketing.
We can’t stop Amazon from taking over the world and our wallets, but we can improve the patient experience by addressing the pain points — or gaps in care — and filling them with powerful moments: patient engagement.
Healthcare marketers use patient engagement to keep patients informed and empowered while keeping the organization top of mind.
We touch consumers through their search for care, their conversion to becoming a patient and all the way through discharge and recovery. Healthcare marketers provide information to patients and keep them engaged through:
- Digital marketing channels such as email, social media and digital advertising that drive your audience to your website and blog sites
- Patient portal and its corresponding mobile app
- Phone system
Patient engagement is important, because more informed and engaged patients often stay on top of their health and experience better health outcomes. And it just so happens that these patients tend to have more positive experiences, because their health concerns are less serious.
How Patient Journey Mapping Works
Patient journey mapping is similar to value stream mapping, a Lean Six Sigma strategy. The only difference is that patient journey mapping incorporates a human element, the patient experience.
It leverages data from various sources such as your:
- Healthcare customer relationship management (HCRM) tool, which integrates with your electronic medical records
- Patient experience surveys
- Patient satisfaction surveys from Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS)
- Safety surveys from Leapfrog star ratings
Patient journey mapping kicks off with a trigger event such as a click on an ad, a completed web form or a clinic visit, and then HCRM tracks each touch point. With HCRM, you can use marketing automation to send timed emails to audience segments, driving them to evergreen blog and website content that keeps them engaged.
HCRM helps by allowing you to understand the patient journey on a granular level and engage personally through targeting individuals based on their demographics or services received. You can also perform patient journey mapping without this tool and instead with survey and focus group data.
Easy Tips for Getting Started with Patient Journey Mapping
Now that you know the basics, you’re ready to roll. Begin with these easy tips:
- Start small. Patient journey mapping doesn’t have to take place on the health system or hospital level. It also works on the clinic level.
- Learn from your patients and consumers. To gain an understanding of what your patients are experiencing and how they interact with the health system, dig into HCAHPS or internal patient satisfaction survey data.
- Identify your patients’ pain points. You can do this either by conducting your own survey or using the patient experience survey data your healthcare organization is already collecting.
- Get key stakeholders involved. When you learn about pain points, recognize that you can’t treat them on your own. So share the feedback with the appropriate individuals and teams so they can correct them.
- Brainstorm some common patient journeys for your organization. Make a list of the high-volume services that have significant impact on the bottom line. Also, list audience segments within those services. And what other services might those audience segments require throughout their care journey?
- Audit your current evergreen content. As you consider some common patient journeys, look at the content you already have that could guide that audience segment through their care.
If you’re overwhelmed and wondering how you’re going to produce all the content needed to inform and engage with your patients, let us be the first to remind you that your marketing strategy wasn’t built in a day. Simply focus on making each point of the patient experience better, one moment at a time.
Ten Adams is Here to Show You the Way
We use our deep understanding of healthcare consumer behavior and personas to create powerful moments for our clients’ unique audiences all when streamlining the experience and creating patient engagement. Interested in learning more about patient journey mapping and how it could work for your organization? Let’s talk. Email Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 812.253.6311.