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How to Build a Healthcare Journey Map

You’ve learned about healthcare personas and journey maps. Now you’re ready to create a journey map for your healthcare organization. What’s the process?

In our experience of building healthcare journey maps, the most important factor is to have a solid foundation in healthcare. The person who builds the journey map should:

  • Have a strong knowledge of typical healthcare processes
  • Know what types of technology might be involved
  • Demonstrate patient empathy

With that framework in mind, here’s the 5-step process to build a healthcare journey map:

Step 1. Understand Your Healthcare Persona

A healthcare journey map should be based on a particular healthcare persona. While you may not build out a persona card for the journey map persona, you still must have a solid understanding of who it is.

You can build this understanding through interviews with patients or staff members, such as clinic coordinators, who work closely with and engage in non-clinical conversations with patients. But remember, the journey map should look outside the clinical lens and through the eyes of the patient.

You might also use site surveys or other market research to learn more about your persona(s).

Step 2. Research the healthcare journey

You’ll want to do some “mystery shopping.” Test out the process and conduct the type of online research your targeted persona will perform. For example, try to schedule an appointment online, and make an appointment over the phone. As you go through the journey yourself, you’ll learn a lot.

For steps on the journey that you’re not able to test yourself – the actual appointment, the discharge instructions, etc. – really probe to uncover specific details. If relevant and appropriate, ask for copies of documentation. When you’re told, for instance, “Patients receive a notification that they’re due for an appointment,” ask what the notification says, what call to action is in place, how users can respond, and so on.

This is where it’s particularly helpful to have a strong healthcare foundation. You’ll know what types of questions to ask and be able to probe appropriately without being intrusive or seemingly “out of touch.”

Step 3. Map the healthcare journey

Start with index cards or sticky notes. Write out each touchpoint and post them in order. Find where gaps remain and where the story isn’t yet complete. See where some touchpoints overlap or repeat. Indicate the emotions associated with each stage in the process. The journey map should start to feel clear now.

Next, work with a designer to flesh out the best visualization for your journey.

Step 4. Share the story and strategic recommendations

The journey map visualization will provide an executive summary of the journey and how different touchpoints flow (or should flow) from one to the other.

But the journey map also should have a point. The next step is to share the “so what?” aspects of the journey. Identify the journey stages that are proving particularly problematic (or delightful!) and explain why. Build additional slides that tell the story behind the map. At the end, provide clear strategic recommendations – the next tactics or strategies needed to improve the journey.

If many tactics are needed, plot them on a quadrant with easy to difficult on one axis, and low to high value on the other. Based on the quadrant, determine which strategies to take on first, and develop a timeline for future updates.

Step 5. Assemble a team to improve the journey

This step isn’t really about building the journey map itself, but if your journey map is to have value, this step is essential. A journey map that sits in a drawer has no purpose, so don’t let that happen! Make sure to keep the momentum.

Assemble a team and assign roles for each of the next strategic tactics identified in Step 4. Determine if those who’ve been assigned to undertake those roles and tasks truly have the bandwidth and the authority to make the change required. Keep it realistic so that your project will be completed.

Get Started!

Personas and journey maps build empathy, understanding, and direction to help your marketing, operations, and care teams deliver more meaningful and impactful experiences.

Perficient brings deep healthcare industry expertise to help you build an integrated strategy that starts with understanding your consumers’ journeys and how they make their care decisions. Are you ready to attract and nurture consumers and position your organization as service line leaders? We can help you jump-start your progress. Gain step-by-step guidance to increase patient satisfaction, loyalty, and retention with well-executed personas and journey maps through our interactive guide

GET THE GUIDE: Personas & Journey Maps: The Definitive How-To Guide for Healthcare Providers

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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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