What is a Patient Journey?
In today’s ever-evolving, consumer-focused world, patients seeking medical care have more provider options than ever before.
This means all healthcare providers need a renewed focus on cultivating a phenomenal patient journey if they want to retain as many patients as possible. But what is a patient journey?
A patient journey is the full sequence of events an individual patient goes through when engaging with the healthcare system.
This journey includes every touchpoint of patient engagement throughout their healthcare experience, whether it be at a hospital, clinic, outpatient office or any other medical facility.
And it doesn’t end there. The true patient journey extends even after they’re discharged or receive treatment.
But first, we need to ask ourselves.
What is the Purpose of a Patient Journey Analysis?
For any healthcare professionals, it’s of extreme importance to analyze the effect you have on your patients’ journey.
In today’s consumer-facing healthcare marketplace, patients have more options than ever when it comes to choosing their healthcare professionals, and if you’re not providing an experience that meets with patient expectations, your patient retention will suffer.
In fact, 81% of consumers are unsatisfied with their health care experience, meaning the health system has some major catching up to do compared to other market sectors.
Through analyzing your current role in the patient journey, engaging with consumers and taking steps to increase individual patient satisfaction, you can create drastically improved patient experiences and provide an increased level of service.
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What are the Stages of the Patient Journey?
As a healthcare professional, you might only take up one small part of the patient journey, but the effect you have within your role can have an incredible effect on the journey as a whole.
Here are all the various stages of the patient journey, from start to finish:
The patient has determined they may have a medical issue that warrants professional treatment and they research their treatment options. This can include online research of their symptoms, filtering their search for a hospital, doctor or clinic and consulting friends and family.
- Seeking Help
The patient reaches out for initial contact with the health system.
- Delivery of Initial Care
The patient goes through intake at a medical facility, is seen by a healthcare professional and has their condition assessed.
The healthcare professional renders a treatment plan consisting of on-site and follow-up care as required.
- Lifestyle/Behavioural Patient Change
The patient, on the advice of their healthcare professional, makes alterations to their lifestyle or daily routine to facilitate proactive healing with the goal of reducing further readmissions and improving their wellbeing.
- Continuing Care
The patient continues to manage their condition between follow-up clinical visits.
- Proactive Health Measures
The healthcare system maintains patient engagement with the healthcare professional and the patient so that the patient has the requisite access to maintain their health.
Also known as patient journey mapping, these are all the steps you must be aware of in order to optimize your role in the overall patient journey and improve care.
What Can You Do to Create Improved Patient Experiences?
The most effective thing you can do to improve your patients’ journeys, as a healthcare professional, is to personalize each and every one of your patient engagements.
Put yourself in your patients’ shoes. Imagine there’s something medically wrong with you — maybe you’re in pain or terribly uncomfortable. These discomforts and symptoms are making you scared and anxious because you may not even know what condition you have, or if it can even be treated.
This medical problem is a highly personal issue to the patient and as such, the best response needs to be highly personalized.
Here are some best practice tips you can employ in the pursuit of improving your patient experience.
Personalize How You Communicate with Patients
Gather data related to your individual patients that goes beyond what’s in their medical record, especially where their communication preferences are concerned. Depending on their age, background or personal preferences, different people prefer different methods of communicating with their healthcare professionals.
Millennials and Generation Zs often prefer to receive communication via text or chat, with appointment reminders the week and day before a scheduled health system appointment.
Older generations tend to prefer phone calls and direct messages
It’s all about seeing your patients as unique people with unique preferences, then catering to those preferences. Doing so will increase patient satisfaction across the board.
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Understand Your Patients’ Personas
People are indeed like snowflakes—they are many and varied. Over time, as you continue to practice as a healthcare professional, you’ll begin to notice predominant trends across the range of your patients.
Noticing these predominant trends and creating patient personas will allow you to develop swifter and more streamlined personalization techniques in the pursuit of heightening your patient engagement.
Some categories that make up these patient personas include:
- Background: Household, family, hereditary medical history, etc.
- Demographics: Gender, age, income, urbanicity, frequented online platforms, etc.
- Psychographics: Ethnicity, tech-level competence, culture, interests, eating habits, travel habits, work-related stress levels, activities for de-stressing, politics, idiosyncrasies, etc.
- Goals: Their primary and secondary health goals, life goals.
- Medical Challenges & Frustrations: Main and secondary health challenges.
Getting to know all of these areas of focus can help you shape your patient personas over time.
Getting the Right Help in Mapping Your Patients’ Journey
Here at Normative, we understand how important the patient journey is to marketing your healthcare product effectively.
If you want to see your product and business reach their maximum potential, call us today for a free consultation.