Patient Journey Mapping: a Complete Guide

Let's be honest, the healthcare market is full of good and efficient mobile apps. To step up your game and stand out from the competitors, you will need improved engagement, easy navigation through the interface, and excellent patient experience. To achieve these objectives, patient journey mapping is a must-step during the development process.

In this article, learn about patient journey mapping and its benefits and pitfalls. Let’s go!

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Table of contents

What is patient journey mapping

Patient journey mapping — also called user journey mapping in healthcare — is an exercise for medical startup owners and developers to create a visual trip of the patient across the solution and come up with a seamless patient journey.

The key idea is to construct a patient experience that encompasses all aspects of the patient’s interaction with the startup, its services, and the product. It includes what users think and feel about the platform.

To create a patient journey map, you need to come up with every step patients would take in the app to reach their goals.

The goal of the process is to get more competent about how patients will interact with your platform, and what they expect and think.

Here is an example of an average healthcare journey:

Step 1:
Step 2:
Step 3:
Initial visit
Step 4:
Step 5:
Patient needs a healthcare service, researches service providers, selects the provider Patient checks for availability, schedules an appointment, receives a reminder about the upcoming visit Patient interacts with (visits) the healthcare organization, receives information and education Patient undergoes testing, gets diagnosed, receives communication during the treatment process Patient completes the treatment, receives follow-up care
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Key benefits of a patient journey map

More than 79% of marketing leads don’t convert into sales and customers, according to the MarketingSherpa report. The main reason for this is a lack of information about the needs of the user based on who they are and where they are in the interaction. It means that even if your marketing strategy is eye-catching and effective, without knowledge about your user, the platform has little chance of being successful.

Creating a patient journey map can directly and significantly impact user experience on your healthcare platform. Here is the list of 5 benefits of patient journey mapping for web and mobile apps.

 Patient journey mapping:

    • Creates personalized patient experiences;
    • Lets you determine unmet user needs and identify pain points;
    • Aligns your organization and stakeholders with a common view of the patient experience;
    • Helps measure gaps between the intended experience for your patients versus the actual experience;
    • Assists with breaking down and understanding complex journeys across multiple touchpoints.
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4 types of patient journey maps

To purposefully design patient experience and create a healthcare journey, you will need to choose a type of map. The choice usually depends on the time and priorities you have, as well as the level of engagement of your stakeholders.

To get a better idea, check out these 4 examples of the most popular types of a patient journey map and 4 templates you can reuse for your startup:

Current state maps. The current state healthcare journey map is a “snapshot” of how things are today. It depicts how a patient interacts with a product and shows the weaknesses and strengths of the experience. It’s the most common and easy-to-create type of map but not very strategic.

To fill in our template, you have to describe every step of the journey with the customer’s thoughts, actions, and touchpoints (when and how they come in contact with your solution), as well as proposed changes.

Future state maps. Such maps present an ideal situation. It’s a “dream” version of a patient journey map that highlights innovation and bold ideas for improvement. Future state maps are built based on current state maps, but they are free of existing constraints and limitations. This type of map is important for strategic planning and UI/UX improvements.

a future state map

To create a future state map, you need to come up with a dream scenario and patient expectations a customer would have. Break them down into awareness steps, pre-visit, experience, and post-visit, and add the user’s actions for each.

Day-in-the-life maps. Day-in-the-life maps show everything patients think, feel and do during the day. This type is similar to current state maps, but there is a difference. Day-in-the-life journey is not limited by your product, it includes everything a user does inside and outside of a healthcare service.

To fill in the day-in-the-life map, imagine how the journey of your customers goes from the moment they wake up till the time they go to bed. Describe each step with details.

Service blueprint maps. Those are not exactly the patient journey maps but a visual layout of administrative systems and tools required to deliver a great user experience at every step. It breaks down what’s happening behind the scenes of patient flow and what resources are used to support a patient’s journey.

Service blueprint maps can include the company’s mission and vision, employees, technology, customer activity, internal and external factors, and backstage actions. Service Blueprint can help you not only understand who your patients are but also how you can operate better and grow the business internally.

To create a service blueprint, get the simple customer journey map, and for each step, add frontstage and backstage actions that happen to support the user’s journey.

6 steps to create a patient journey map

Patient journey mapping requires a lot of knowledge about the patients. Without understanding your customers and their needs, finding gaps and growth opportunities can be very challenging.

To help you approach mapping the patient journey, we put together a 6-step guide to creating an effective and useful map.

Step 1: Define goals and the scope of the map

First things first, you will need to identify the goal and the type of the map.

In the healthcare industry especially, positive patient experience is tied to transparency and clarity during the process. When users deal with health issues, the last thing they want is confusing navigation.

To build a path from A to B and make sure all stakeholders are on the same page, you will need to define end results, main objectives, and key points of patient journey mapping. See our list of questions to ask to get started with the process.

❓Questions to ask:

    • What is the purpose of creating the map? What are the expected results from the process of patient journey mapping?
    • What type of patient journey maps will we use?
    • How will we know our end goal is achieved? What success looks like?

Step 2: Create patient personas and do user research

A patient persona or a user persona — is a fictional character that represents a segment of users with similar needs and traits. It can be based on your current or ideal customers, depending on the type of map you choose to create.

Patient persona profiles should include demographic information (age, race, marital status, income), habits, goals, common pain points, and motivations. You can be as detailed as possible and add any patient data that is relevant to your healthcare solution, from needs and frustrations to coffee preferences and favorite brands.

❓Questions to ask:

    • What are the types of users that will interact with your app?
    • What are the reasons why patients will use this healthcare service?
    • How often do they interact with healthcare providers? What are the pain points of this interaction?
    • How is your startup helping them overcome their challenges?

Step 3: Map the patient’s touchpoints

Next, we recommend mapping every step of a patient’s journey, including the first interaction, pre-visit services, treatment, and post-visit. The touchpoints will include every interaction with your healthcare service. All this information will become the backbone of your healthcare experience.

To make the most out of patient journey maps, you can include information about the user’s emotional state at each touchpoint and ideas for potential changes. This way, when you return to the map in the future, you will reconstruct what users feel and think about the solution at each step.

❓Questions to ask:

    • How does the first touch with our platform happen? What’s the new and first-time user experience like?
    • What are the main stages of a customer’s journey?
    • What pre-visit and post-visit services do we offer to a patient?

Step 4: Use automation tools

Once you define touchpoints and arrange them on the map, it’s time to make use of technology and come up with ways to automate patient care. It might seem too easy to do, but in a complex healthcare system, something can always slip away.

Your goal is to make sure all processes are automated and run as smoothly as possible. For example, add online appointment booking to help patients schedule a consultation in seconds. Or enable prescription refill reminders to help users stay on top of things and show that you care about them.

❓Questions to ask:

    • What digital engagement tools exist on the market? Which of them can benefit this particular healthcare journey?
    • Will patients be satisfied with each step? How can you make their experience better?

Step 5: Create a communication plan

Clear communication and education can prevent misunderstandings and possible confusion among patients. Their journey should be well-informed and effective at each and every stage. This step can be executed towards the final launch or can be ongoing during the rest of the development services.

Before creating a communication plan, you need to analyze your current communication efforts and identify what works and what doesn’t. Researching the competitors and the market can also help you find new communication tools that can be implemented for a better patient experience. For example, you can improve your patient messaging system, spice up the tone of voice on the platform, or sign up for EHR calling to create a smart office.

❓Questions to ask:

    • How effective is our current communication system?
    • What are the most recent communication technologies and innovative tools we can adopt?
    • Do healthcare providers know about the communication technologies we use/plan to use?

Step 6: Get patient feedback for future improvements

Last, but not least is to gather patient feedback from those who have already interacted with your solution and received healthcare services. If all previous steps can be done before the launch, this stage requires real users.

You will need to ask the patients how they really feel about the solution and compare it with your expectations or predictions. Feedback can be received by a short post-visit survey or quick thumb-up/thumb-down buttons on the screens. You can store this information separately or add it to the map so you can make precise data-driven decisions about patient journey mapping in the future.

❓Questions to ask:

    • Was it easy to schedule an appointment with the app? What was patients’ overall experience with the platform like?
    • How easy or difficult for patients was to interact with an app and complete their journey?
    • What was missing from the patient’s interaction with the app?
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Wrapping up

Overall, patient journey mapping is an effective tool to meet your user’s needs, create a personalized patient experience, improve patient satisfaction, and identify the room for improvement. When you start working on the map for your solution, preparation is the key to success. The better you know your customer, the more detailed and precise map you can create.

It’s very important to remember that you are not your own patient, and despite years of experience and expertise, you can still uncover surprising insights during the patient journey mapping.

Create insightful patient journey maps to better understand what your users experience and innovate your services accordingly.

Eventually, patient journey maps will lead to a higher patient retention rate, elevated quality of patient care, and improved user satisfaction.

About us

At Purrweb, we provide mobile and web software development services with straightforward and cutting-edge UI/UX to level up the user experience. We help startups and existing companies build an MVP in 3 months and test a business idea with real-world customers.

Wanna move forward with your healthcare idea and consult our developers? Drop your email via the contact form below, and we’ll get back to you soon.

Our cases in healthcare

We have extensive experience in the healthcare industry. Our team created a handful of mobile apps to help healthcare institutions, doctors, and hospitals streamline work processes. From a doctor-patient communication platform to drug delivery service.

One of our cases is a UK-based platform for online therapy services. First, the client approached us for design services only, but we ended up developing both web and mobile apps. We built a competitive product with custom features and adaptive screens that complied with HIPAA and GDPR requirements.

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  • What is patient journey mapping?

    Patient journey mapping is a process of recreating steps patients would take in the healthcare app to reach their goals.

  • What is patient experience?

    Patient experience encompasses all aspects of the patient's interaction with the startup, its services, and the product. To map the patient journey, you need to recreate every step patients would take in the app to reach their goal.

  • What are the benefits of patient journey mapping?

    Creating a patient journey map can directly and significantly impact user experience on your platform. In particular, it can lead to personalized patient experience, identifying unmet user needs and common pain points, a common view of the patient experience among all team members, locating gaps between the intended experience for your patients versus the actual experience, breaking down and understanding complex journeys across multiple touchpoints.

  • Why is the patient journey map important in healthcare?

    In the healthcare industry especially, positive patient experience is tied to transparency and clarity during the process. When users deal with health issues, the last thing they want is confusing navigation.

  • How patient journey maps are created?

    Step 1: Define goals and the scope of the map. Step 2: Create patient personas and do user research. Step 3: Map the patient’s touchpoints. Step 4: Use automation tools. Step 5: Create a communication plan. Step 6: Get patient feedback for future improvements.