Are you looking to boost loyalty to your healthcare brand, improve patient retention, and increase your profit margins? If so, you need to put your focus on improving the patient experience. When given a superior customer experience, patients stick with their healthcare center, driving net profit margins 50% higher.
In order to make that happen, you must first start with patient journey mapping. Through the mapping process, you can pinpoint key areas of improvement and revise your approach to meet your patients’ needs.
What is Patient Journey Mapping?
Patient journey mapping is the process of visualizing every touchpoint patients encounter when getting healthcare services. The touchpoints occur before your patients come to your healthcare center. They continue through the visit and afterward, reflect on each point of contact with your brand.
In the healthcare world, there are three main stages for the patient journey map:
The pre-visit stage of the patient experience map starts with the initial research into your healthcare facility. It can be through your online or social media presence or through a reference. After that, they may reach out to book an appointment or schedule an online consultation.
The next stage of your patient journey mapping covers the actual visit, starting with arrival. The touchpoints begin as your patients pull into the parking lot and navigate to your clinic lobby.
Additional steps include lining up for check-in, the reception experience, and waiting for the appointment to start. The actual provider care experience matters greatly, as does the process of follow-up scheduling.
The final stage occurs post-visit when patients get a chance to review their experience. Touchpoint triggers typically revolve around communication from the care team, surveys, and questionnaires sent to their inbox.
Even if you have a promising idea for your practice, you need to step into your patients’ shoes to truly understand their experiences. Thereafter, you can create an accurate patient journey map from start to finish.
Importance of the Patient Journey Map
As with a buyer’s journey map for retail, building a patient experience map allows you to improve your processes. While mapping it out, you will get actionable data that reveals where you can improve. You can then adjust your approach to better support all your patients as they seek quality healthcare.
Completing the journey mapping process will bring all the following benefits to your healthcare facility:
Patient journey mapping provides insights into how well your facility supports patients through every stage of the healthcare process. With that information, it is easier to minimize patient stress, improve outcomes, and make the overall experience much more positive.
As you create a patient journey map that works, your efforts optimize the workflow, ensuring staff can work more efficiently. Improved efficiency boosts job satisfaction while cutting expenses as you eliminate ineffective processes.
Making improvements to your approach shows patients you care about their experience in navigating their healthcare journey. Retention improves as a result, as the streamlined approach reduces patient stress, anxiety, and frustrations.
As you optimize workflows, help staff work more efficiently, and improve patient retention, the profits follow. The boost in job satisfaction positively impacts your bottom line, saving you from the high cost of employee turnover.
To get all those benefits, you must create a patient journey map, and adjust your approach accordingly. Aim to repeat this process and continually revise your approach to meet your patients’ needs.
How Patient Journey Mapping Improves Care
Your patients will also benefit from your commitment to mapping out their experience at your healthcare facility. Your newfound approach creates a more personalized journey for every patient. Beyond that, streamlining your processes eliminates confusion, frustrations, and other pain points.
As that happens, patients can better focus on simply getting care and abiding by their doctor’s recommendations. Outcomes are likely to improve due to their increased willingness to schedule follow-up visits with their provider. At both the staff and patient level, the decrease in stress can have a positive impact on care outcomes.
Journey mapping also helps to differentiate the services you provide from other practices in your local area, helping you gain and retain more customers.
Steps to Mapping the Patient Journey
Are you ready to get started in mapping the patient’s journey? Just follow these steps.
1. Look at the Structure of Your Care Process
Put yourself in your patient’s shoes and move through the care process. Begin the research phase by exploring your website and other marketing materials. After that, see what it is like to make an appointment and schedule an online consultation.
Looking at the structure of the visit stage is trickier, of course, but do your best to move through each step. After that, complete your questionnaires and surveys to finish your journey through the typical patient experience at your healthcare facility.
2. Record Key Metrics About Your Approach
To create the actionable data needed to inspire change, look at:
- The total time it takes to complete every step
- Wait times between all the touchpoints
- Longest delays in the care process
- Total number of hand-offs from start to finish
At the end of that process, reflect on whether you found – any duplicate steps that could get removed from the journey.
3. Reflect on the Quality of Patient Experience
Take a moment to reflect on the quality of the patient experience, including noting any potential pain points.
Ask questions like:
- Were there any points in the care process that seemed confusing?
- How many times did you feel frustrated with the quality of care?
- Did you find any steps that felt like a waste of time and effort?
- Is there a need for a tool or technology to enhance the patient experience?
In the end, were you able to say that the overall patient experience felt satisfying? If not, then you need to change things up.
4. Look for Process and Functional Bottlenecks
Process and functional bottlenecks take away from the overall quality of care, so aim to minimize them as much as possible.
Overly complex steps that take a long time to complete, like manual check-ins.
Delays that occur due to the high demand for certain services, like radiology.
As you identify these bottlenecks, you can look for effective solutions that eliminate them. If manual check-ins are too time-consuming, for example, switch to a digital platform instead. In fact, digitalization has an overall positive impact on the patient experience. It is often best to explore that avenue first when addressing all the bottlenecks you find.
With your patient journey map in hand, you can start handcrafting the perfect experience for all your patients. Reflect on how your changes might improve their satisfaction and overall quality of care. Then, revisit your map regularly to look for bottlenecks and other opportunities to improve. As you do that, revise again to keep your approach in line with your patients’ needs.
With the right approach, patient journey mapping helps you enhance the patient experience. Your map provides the insights needed to address problems at every touchpoint through the pre-visit, visit, and post-visit stages. You can then optimize the workflow, resulting in increased patient retention rates and profit margins. Patient care outcomes also improve as your streamlined approach eliminates barriers to getting quality healthcare services.
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