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10 Reasons to Build Healthcare Journey Maps

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Healthcare journey maps take time to build, require input from multiple groups, and may uncover uncomfortable findings of the patient journey in your health system. So why invest in creating them?

Here’s why to build healthcare journey maps:

1. Discover pain points

Healthcare journey maps uncover pain points in the healthcare consumer journey. You learn just how many touchpoints the patient encounters from the first symptoms to post-treatment. Once the journey is mapped, pain points become clear – where healthcare consumers experience frustration, confusion, or worse. You discover how hard patients work to find vital information, CTAs that lead nowhere, call center agents who don’t understand critical services, follow-ups that get missed. Once identified, these pain points can be prioritized and fixed over time, gradually creating ease across touchpoints, increased patient satisfaction and retention.

2. Imagine an ideal

You may decide to create both a current state and ideal state journey map. Imagining the ideal provides a vision that all groups can start to build toward. Doing the hard work of fixing pain points can feel tiring or overwhelming. Focusing on the ideal end-state provides motivation and direction.

3. Identify the gaps and build a roadmap

When you compare the current state to the ideal state or discern significant pain points in the ongoing healthcare journey, you can start to pinpoint specific gaps. Then you can define what is needed to fill those gaps. This may include new technology, new content, and design, change management, or other updates. These can be plotted along a timeline to create a roadmap to that ideal state.

4. Know your audience

You may think you know your audience. But once you build out personas (learn about building healthcare personas) or create journey maps of those persona’s healthcare journeys, you learn just how much you didn’t know. When you look at the data or talk with patients, you discover they often don’t react the way you expected. And you learn their exact actions and motivations.

5. Align your team

Within teams, people are often focused on different issues. By creating journey maps, identifying pain points, and creating a centralized plan for the next steps, all team members can align with those next steps. And by working together toward the same goal, the team ultimately accomplishes more.

6. Connect disparate teams

Every health system has teams that work closely and yet speak different languages. The work marketing does to acquire new patients feeds directly into operational teams who then register and schedule patients. And however, those two workstreams are often disconnected. Building a journey map can help these teams better understand each other’s workflows. Ultimately the healthcare journey maps create better connections not just for patients, but between internal teams as well.

7. Create ease – by connecting each touchpoint

As health systems chip away at healthcare consumer pain points, they start to create a more connected healthcare journey. Each touchpoint flows to the next with so much ease that patients move from touchpoint to touchpoint without disruption. They search for immediate care, find the right option, schedule online, get reminders and directions, receive care, have automated follow-ups – each seamlessly connected to the other to take the guesswork and missed care needs out of the healthcare journey.

8. Create stickiness – by aligning users with your brand

Most healthcare consumers today will tell you they love their doctors and nurses but are frustrated by their health systems. Why? Because their health systems are confusing and don’t “know who I am.” Healthcare consumers feel like they’re starting their journey from scratch at each touchpoint. By connecting the touchpoints, users begin to see their health systems as trusted health advisors. And they develop loyalty to the brand.

9. Improve ROI

Build a digital campaign, and it’s possible to record some degree of direct return on investment. Journey maps often get skipped because, at the end of the project, when the journey map deliverable is shared, there’s not yet any evident ROI. Consider this: how much money does your system waste each year because people respond to ads but don’t follow through? Who has one appointment, but due to poor follow-up and lack of nurture, never come back? The ROI may not be immediate, but once the gaps are identified and filled, the ROI of journey maps becomes clear.

10. Build a better healthcare journey

Ultimately, healthcare journey maps can provide a first step toward improving the healthcare journey for patients. Dealing with healthcare issues, whether they’re routine or life-threatening, is highly emotional. When health systems don’t address complications in the healthcare journey, patients may not follow through. Or they may just be frustrated. Either way, patients deserve better. By building journey maps, health systems can take those first steps to create improved healthcare journeys for their patients. Read what happens when the journey is disconnected.

Ready to get started building healthcare journey maps?

Our team has built healthcare journey maps for health systems throughout the U.S. Learn more about healthcare journey maps. Or read our 5-step process to build a healthcare journey map.

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Linda Watts

Linda is a healthcare digital strategy leader with 20 years of progressive experience in guiding diverse health system teams to develop and execute digital experiences and infrastructures. She is passionate about improving healthcare consumer experience, while also ensuring business ROI, to help health systems expand on their broader missions to improve their communities' health and well-being.

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