Healthcare patients have a wide array of options in terms of their treatment. Healthcare organizations must concentrate on producing outstanding experiences if they want to meaningfully retain selective, value-driven clients.  

The patient journey is vital since patients trust healthcare providers with their life. Even though the nature of the field creates an environment of discomfort and unease, a well-made patient journey can help diffuse such feelings and offer speedy, effective, and accessible care.  

At our webinar, “Understanding patient journey: A step towards great patient experience”, healthcare experts Uzodinma Umeh, Chief Medical Officer, Zuri Health and Chantelle Fraser, Vice President – Africa Sales, LeadSquared discussed the intricacies of patient journey mapping and share tips on how you can improve it.  

What is Patient Journey Mapping?  

Patient journey mapping is crucial for pinpointing patient experience gaps and deciphering patient needs. The idea behind patient journey mapping is to provide a visual depiction of every encounter a patient has with the healthcare system.  

A patient’s journey involves each step of their healthcare experience. The journey begins when a patient develops the need for treatment and care. By recognizing and addressing the various concerns that influence the patient experience at each level, patient journey mapping aims to increase positive patient outcomes.  

“Healthcare providers need to be obsessed with patient journey. The journey begins way before a patient even visits the healthcare facility to interact with the healthcare provider, and it ends a lot after their treatment. A good patient journey map integrates various virtual and physical touchpoints.”

Uzodinma Umeh, Chief Medical Officer, Zuri Health 

Here’s why a patient journey map is vital for healthcare businesses:  

  • Patient journey mapping provides insights into the experiences patients undergo when receiving care in a medical facility.  
  • It provides a general idea of the patient experience and in-depth observations on each touchpoint along the way.  
  • These findings are priceless for healthcare professionals as they develop plans to raise the standard of care, boost productivity, and boost patient satisfaction
  • Mapping the full patient journey is the most effective technique to comprehend the end-to-end patient experience and identify opportunities for improvement. 

Mapping healthcare journeys aim to answer the following crucial questions: 

  1. What is the patient going through?  
  2. What are the patient’s primary concerns? 
  3. Is the patient able to cope with their diagnosis?  
  4. Is information regarding the patient’s diagnosis easily accessible?  
  5. Is the patient satisfied and content with the care they’re receiving?  

The healthcare customer journey map will facilitate the ability of your institution to spot inconsistencies, find areas for development, and optimize intervention strategies throughout the entire healthcare system.  

Additionally, patients, providers, and all hospital personnel stand to benefit from a patient journey map. Let’s take a quick look at the various benefits of a patient journey map.  

Benefits of Patient Journey Mapping  

“Investing in patient experience essentially takes away the cost of advertising and acquisition. It also boosts referrals, recommendations, and NPS at the same time.”

Uzodinma Umeh, Chief Medical Officer, Zuri Health 

1. Discover and help overcome any inefficiencies 

Patient journey mapping effectively points out bottlenecks and unaddressed patient concerns. For instance, you notice your ENT specialist is steadily losing patients. Later you realize it’s because your patients may spend more than half an hour waiting to see the provider. A patient journey map can instantly identify long wait times and help you reschedule appointments.  
Every time a patient expresses frustration or uncertainty about her next steps toward recovery, it’s an obvious sign that there are friction spots or unmet gaps in the healthcare system. A patient journey map can effectively battle such challenges and create a clear path for a patient’s progress. 

2. Identify growth opportunities 

Once you identify potential bottlenecks in the care process, service providers can consider innovative ways to improve patient satisfaction. The majority of the time, optimizing current digital solutions and introducing new ones is essential to enhance the patient’s experience. For example, 57% of patients wish to receive an automated text, voicemail, or email from their doctor as a reminder to schedule consultations. Implementing systems that carry out these tasks along the patient journey is vital to improving patient satisfaction.   

3. Personalize patient pathways 

Instead of using a one-size-fits-all strategy, a well-designed patient journey map aids healthcare organizations in planning their services around specific patient perspectives. In turn, this helps develop meaningful bonds with patients and results in enhanced ongoing care.   

For instance, businesses can utilize marketing automation to send out personalized emails with appointment reminders which lower the number of patient no-shows. Having access to integrated patient data that spans across each patient interaction helps healthcare businesses build patient profiles to cater to their unique needs.  

4. Keeping patients informed and aware 

Patients are always looking for detailed and accurate information regarding their healthcare concerns. Patient journey mapping helps businesses identify the touchpoints where essential and relevant information can be shared with patients.  

For instance, adopting patient education techniques to help patients better prepare for surgery and ensuring they have fulfilled all prerequisite work before visiting the clinic. Educating patients and keeping them abreast of their illnesses can increase satisfaction, lower anxiety, and improve retention. Patient journey maps often incorporate pieces of content that increase awareness among patients. 

5. Increase revenue and productivity 

A patient journey map enables you to successfully meet patient expectations. Net margins for hospitals that provide “excellent” patient care are typically 50% higher than those for hospitals that offer “average” patient care. Moreover, organizational stakeholders can prioritize patients depending on their stage in the engagement cycle if they have detailed knowledge about their needs and preferences.  

Making an effective patient journey map will augment your workflows and empower staff to work more efficiently. Profits increase automatically with staff productivity, patient retention, and workflow optimization. Your bottom line will benefit from the increase in job satisfaction because you won’t have to pay the high cost of employee turnover.  

Healthcare journey mapping is a no-brainer for any provider looking to boost patient satisfaction. Now that we know a bit about patient journey mapping, let’s get right into its different stages and what tools you can use to meet its challenges.  

Stages of Patient Journeys 

1. Awareness 

The first step in the patient journey is awareness. The patient recognizes a need for care at this point and starts looking for caregivers. Online searches, review websites, advertising initiatives, networking, and community involvement are a few examples of how patients find out about healthcare services.  

“Patient journey is very vast, and there’s always a virtual aspect to it. It begins the moment when the patient experiences a symptom. Most of the time, they go online to find a treatment or a solution to their pain. Healthcare providers need to use this opportunity to position themselves virtually by offering a solution, allowing them to research treatments, and book appointments with ease.” 

Uzodinma Umeh, Chief Medical Officer, Zuri Health

When a patient enters your digital door, their journey officially begins. This may be your healthcare call center, a PPC ad, a third-party listing, or more than one site.  

The patient evaluates their symptoms, does research, thinks about potential medical issues that might need treatment, and may even interact with message boards.

These are some of the challenges patients face at this step: 

  • Lack of polished website with information that helps them better understand their condition. 
  • Difficulty finding providers nearby who can cater to their unique needs.  
  • Patients undergo feelings of anxiety and fear regarding their concerns.  

The key to reaching patients at this stage lies in your online presence. 

Visitors to your website are virtually strangers, unaware of your existence or the services you provide. You must reach patients at this stage by delivering content that is both valuable to readers and SEO-friendly.  

Additionally, listing your facility on google is a non-negotiable practice in today’s times. Patients are likely to find you while searching for providers nearby. Your facility’s reviews, ratings, images, and more play a crucial part in whether or not a patient chooses your practice.  

Investing in tools that help you: 

  • Track and monitor your online presence 
  • Collect patient feedback through surveys 
  • Share vital content on blogs, social media, and other websites and issues where relevant dialogues are taking place to educate the patient 

2. Consideration 

The patient analyzes their options throughout the consideration step to see if your healthcare facility can satisfy their needs. Referrals, coverage and perks, suggestions, accessibility, and ratings and reviews are all things that patients take into account during this stage.  

“When it comes to healthcare reviews and recommendations, 83% of patients trust their friends and family, while 62% trust reviews online from people they haven’t even met. This is exactly why healthcare businesses need to collect feedback and reviews physically and virtually to bring in patients from referrals.”

Chantelle Fraser, Vice President – Africa Sales, LeadSquared

Patients frequently interact with your website and social media accounts and call or email you. Additionally, if you are hard to get in touch with, they will go on to the next applicant.

Some other challenges patients face at this stage are: 

  • Inability to reach and interact with the relevant healthcare practitioners about their symptoms, 
  • Multiple options across different platforms can overwhelm them and make it hard to zero in on the right provider. 

At this point, you can find out more about your potential patient, specifically about their preferred method of communication, and make sure you provide it. For instance, if a patient prefers communicating via email, you should reach them on this platform. 

Tools you can use to better connect with patients at this stage are: 

  • Email marketing solutions that help automate emails that reach the right person at the right time, 
  • Tools that help you segment visitors and create targeted ad campaigns, 
  • Chatbots help you reach patients with concerns in real time and get a deeper understanding of their concerns.  

3. Acquisition 

The patient decides to book consultations with your healthcare facility during the acquisition stage. Direct patient contact with your organization is the first indicator of the acquisition stage. As part of the booking and new patient acquisition process, you will interact with patients via phone calls, the user portal, texts, and emails.  

The patient generally arranges a meeting and visits a doctor for a preliminary checkup. At this stage, they don’t have to physically appear at the healthcare center. In many circumstances, a telehealth consultation will suffice. 

Challenges at this stage are: 

  • Lack of access to appointment booking portals and websites
  • Limited communication regarding their appointments and consultations beforehand
  • Lengthy wait times that reduce patient satisfaction 
  • Need to fill out extensive paperwork when visiting the facility before actually meeting the provider

At this point, software solutions are essential to improve communication between health services, patients, and individual practitioners.

Tools that help improve a patient’s experience at this stage are: 

  • Appointment scheduling solutions that help providers and patients find convenient timings for consultations. 
  • Email automation tools that send notifications to patients before appointments to reduce the chance of no-shows. 
  • Patient onboarding tools help them fill out forms and answer pertinent questions before they visit the facility.  

4. Service 

The stage of service delivery has to do with the medical care you administer to your patients. The medical consultation itself, check-in and check-out, registration and discharge, and payment are all components of this step.  

This step of the patient journey is the focal point for traditional patient satisfaction measurement. After choosing to use your services, the patient’s attention shifts from issues like credentials and reputation to care delivery.  

Therefore, the focus of their internal rating system depends on the quality of service. Generally, individuals base their opinions on their personal experiences rather than what they claim to be able to do or what others have said about working with them. 

At this stage, the challenges are: 

  • Difficulty locating comprehensive patient information across different touchpoints at the facility.  
  • Administering the necessary treatment and meeting patient expectations. 
  • In cases where the patient opts for home care, the inability to monitor and track their progress serves as a significant challenge to the treatment process. 

The bulk of patient issues is rarely solved in the medical office. The patient’s experience persists into the treatment phase after assessment and any related procedures. They might receive an in-patient or out-patient plan or receive medicine and get discharged.  

At this point, you want to go beyond just calling to see how the patient is doing with their medicine and use the knowledge you have collected about them to deliver personalized care. 

Tools to use at this stage of healthcare: 

  • Billing and payment software that enables the speedy processing of invoices and collection of money through the patient or insurer. 
  • A tool that unifies patient data and offers visual reports on a healthcare dashboard that is easy to use and accurate in its data collection and analysis. 
  • A communication tool that allows patients to contact their healthcare provider whenever necessary and update their status as it changes. 
  • Feedback collection tools like patient satisfaction surveys and questionnaires to gather information and testimonials for future use.  

5. Loyalty 

Fostering loyal patient relationships is crucial to the success of any healthcare facility. The best way to retain and nurture patients over time is to carry out post-visit follow-ups and keep track of their recovery. 

“The patient journey also includes post-operation and post-visit care for your patients. You can use technology to take care of your patients by sending visit reminders, notify them of when their next vaccination is due, schedule house calls and much more. Collecting feedback and implementing it on a macro-level is another important post-visit step.” 

Uzodinma Umeh, Chief Medical Officer, Zuri Health

The healthcare provider often overlooks this phase of the patient journey mapping. Regardless of whether a patient’s treatment goes well or not, it is still necessary for the healthcare provider to follow up with them thereafter.  

Challenges at this stage are:  

  • Difficulty keeping in touch with patients as they recover or face issues during the aftercare process
  • Measuring patient satisfaction and their response to the treatment 
  • Offering the necessary information to speed up recovery and keep patients aware of different reactions they may have when receiving care

You must keep an eye on the patient’s aftercare and monitor your interactions with them. You must help the patient through their everyday changes and along the road to recovery. This phase is crucial because it guarantees the patient’s long-term welfare and lowers the likelihood of readmission. 

Tools you can use during this stage are: 

  • Email marketing automation that helps send automated follow-ups with feedback forms
  • Tools that track and monitor the patient’s progress, like a healthcare smartwatch or diagnosis tools
  • CRMs that help send notifications to patients to update them on recurring appointments and consultations

High reviews online and increased communication are the results of a satisfying long-term relationship. Additionally, you should keep track of the patient while they adjust their lifestyle by having routine checks and catering to any ancillary requirements. Implementing patient follow-up practices boosts retention and increases the chances of receiving new patients through referrals.  

These stages differ from one patient to another. This is why it is vital to create and implement patient journey maps that help your facility track and meet patient needs as and when they arise.  

So, how do you map efficient patient journeys and boost satisfaction across the board? 

Steps to Track and Improve Patient Journeys 

1. Data collection and patient segmentation 

You require a robust system for data acquisition that can access, analyze, and predict patient needs. Organizations frequently employ several methods to record every aspect of the patient experience.  

This is useful, but you need a core platform that can integrate with external applications and compile data into a dashboard for research. These platforms usually help you identify patient personas and segment them accurately to reach high-priority patients faster.  

You should list the ideal patients you wish to work with if you don’t already have a precise patient base in mind. 

These are some details to track when building a patient persona 

  • Information on the population’s age, gender, and location 
  • Needs, conditions, and solutions specific to their health 
  • Engagement patterns and feedback  
  • What role do your services play in their lives? 
  • Obstacles to receiving proper care 

Collecting patient information and segmenting them into different groups empowers you to treat them according to their unique needs. It helps personalize the patient experience and distributes leads to the respective departments at the right time.  

One thing to keep in mind while implementing data collection solutions, ensure they are GDPR and HIPAA-compliant beforehand. Protecting patient information is a non-negotiable aspect of their healthcare journey. Patients should have nothing to worry about when they entrust their vital information to your care.  

2. Track and monitor patient activity across channels 

When journey mapping, omnichannel listening is a powerful instrument. It is essential to get a clear grasp of your patients’ perspectives and attitudes when they interact with your organization by monitoring them across different channels.  

The patient’s perspective of their care journey inside your health system is the focus of this stage; the actual procedures and mechanisms your organization has in place are not.  

“An omnichannel experience makes access to healthcare as easy as ordering food online. But while focusing on your patients, you also need to keep the process simple for your internal—clinical and non-clinical—teams. A digital front door ensures that all your communications happen on the same platform, which enables you to automate at scale.”

Chantelle Fraser, Vice President – Africa Sales, LeadSquared 

You must understand the journey from the patient’s perspective to map the patient journey effectively. Such knowledge can help you design engagement journeys that cater to patients’ requirements at every step by studying the patient lifecycle. These are some measures you can take in this step:  

  • If you are running digital ads and your clinic is visible online, you might want to look at data from analytics platforms like Google Analytics or Facebook advertisements. This can help you gain some understanding of how your various internet touchpoints are operating.  
  • Ensure there are several channels of communication accessible and that visitors can easily interact with your staff when they engage in your service. Some clients would like to use a chatbot to arrange a meeting, others could prefer calling and booking appointments.  
  • Consider investing in such tools depending on the needs of your patients and their feedback. Keep in mind that you need a tool that tracks every interaction you share with a lead. Moreover, it should automatically relay any details to the relevant practitioner promptly.  

Monitoring, tracking, and highlighting the various routes patients take when interacting with your practice are essential. 

3. Automate onboarding and follow-up processes 

“Healthcare is very complex because it also depends on the patient’s emotional situation. But technology helps you leverage automation and tools to improve the patient’s experience. Even things that seem simple, like appointment booking, can get complicated at scale.”

Uzodinma Umeh, Chief Medical Officer, Zuri Health

Getting personal health data from new patients and maintaining a record in your Healthcare CRM or file system is essential when onboarding new patients. The problem—slowing down the patient’s progression from initial contact to treatment—may be brought on because you’re using archaic, manual data entry practices.  

These procedures can be made more efficient with the help of a powerful automation solution. There are several processes you can automate when onboarding and following up with patients, some of which are: 

  • Healthcare firms must employ marketing automation to communicate with their audiences in a timely, tailored, and relevant manner. Compared to one-off texts, frequent automated message series typically receive more opens and generate more interaction. 
  • While simultaneously providing a secure and confidential contactless experience for patients and internal staff, paperless patient onboarding enables you to reduce the time constraints imposed by patient intake and agreements.  
  • Any form that needs a signature can get approval on a computer, tablet, or smartphone. Additionally, you can patients reminders to complete their documentation and payments using an automated notification.  
  • Reports provide a broad overview of the most significant tasks carried out by any business. Healthcare analytics can immensely help practitioners create regimens that fit each patient’s unique needs.   
  • Furthermore, you can use these reports to track a number of metrics that display the health of your organization’s finances. These reports can help you identify the primary sources of patient lead generation by highlighting high-performing channels.  
  • Healthcare staff cannot waste time tracking each lead and prospective patient’s activities online and offline. Automated tracking tools are a must-have feature of any healthcare solution your implement in the future. Onboarding processes are far easier when you track each patient’s progress and modify their journeys accordingly.  

It takes careful planning and coordination across numerous hospitals and hospice departments and systems to onboard patients for in-hospital care. The manual method frequently takes too long and is susceptible to data entry mistakes.  

At every hospital, routine data processing tasks include managing patient appointments, tracking vitals, managing discharges, and auditing medical operations. These are essential in ensuring a high quality of care. 

A typical day for doctors and nurses involves more than 500 clicks. Such repetitive chores are excellent candidates for automation, which frees up medical staff members’ time so they can concentrate on treating patients.

4. Build Integrated Patient Units 

Patient journeys require a substantial amount of effort across departments. It is crucial to integrate roles, departments, and specialties within a single organization, to provide patients with coordinated care and uniform information.  

Integrating different departments and their information help organizations prioritize the needs of patients over those of individual units. Inpatient, outpatient, and rehabilitation services are all facilitated by integrated practice units.  

“Creating a single view to access patient information is absolutely vital. The overall patient experience is an accumulation of their interactions across departments. There might be a disconnect between teams, that can be fixed once you have a tool to highlight these blind spots. But data scattered across teams is of no use if it doesn’t bridge the gap between the gap between the patient and healthcare provider.”

Chantelle Fraser, Vice President – Africa Sales, LeadSquared 

Departmental Integration helped Manipal Hospitals provide vital treatment to their patients. Here’s how they achieved this:  

Case Study: Manipal hospitals improved patient management efficiency by integrating healthcare teams.  

Manipal Hospitals, one of the largest healthcare providers in India, has a network of over 27 multispecialty hospitals that provide curative and preventive care.  

Manipal Hospitals is India’s second-largest multispecialty hospital chain with one of the highest numbers of doctors and hospital beds. Three teams at Manipal Hospitals are vital to the treatment of patients: 

  • The lead-generating agency 
  • Inquiry management 
  • Customer experience team

But the disconnect between these teams hampered patient-related activities at Manipal Hospitals.  

Challenges faced by Manipal Hospitals  LeadSquared Solutions  Results 
Lack of real time updates in patient reports and patient tracking.Unified dashboards that are automatically updated and are accessible to all team members. Patient stages are easy to track and healthcare providers can personalize treatments.  
Disconnected teams where the patient data was scattered across platforms.Automated workflows ensure that leads and patient information is swiftly and securely transferred across teams.Improved patient journey, patient stage, and activity tracking.  
Generating cohesive revenue and productivity reports was a high-effort task.  Customizable reports that can be generated with just a few clicks.  Highly-data driven patient management strategies which improve patient engagement.  

“LeadSquared’s APIs and connectors help us collect detailed patient data and integrate it with our core HIS system. The dashboards and reports enable us to work with this data and derive great insights from it. Both these features help streamline patient journeys, save time, and in turn boost team productivity. 

Kiran Ramakrishna, Assistant Manager, Manipal Hospitals

Now, the healthcare business collects leads and confirms appointments on LeadSquared. Leads with inquiries were instantly transferred to the respective team through LeadSquared’s CRM. The three teams now collaborate better, and the information collected is error-free. 

Doctors and nurses now have patient records that are automatically updated. This information is essential in the care stage of a patient journey and it requires a highly integrated system for patients. Let’s delve into some tools that help you pursue these steps to create personalized patient journeys.  

Tools to build and track the entire patient journey 

1. A HIPAA-Compliant Healthcare CRM 

Integrating your customer relationship management (CRM) and insights platform with your existing EHR help you gather, arrange, and analyze vast volumes of patient data.  

The CRM combines demographic, sociographic, and past relationship data with clinical data from the EHR to generate a holistic, 360-degree view of each patient. The CRM-EHR integration enables strategists to build comprehensive patient personas to target in the journey mapping process.  

Making the most of the patient path mapping activity also requires the use of marketing automation. Several CRMs offer marketing automation capabilities that empower users to communicate effectively and efficiently.  

Watch our webinar where our expert panelists discuss how integrating the CRM and EHR applications help healthcare businesses build cohesive patient journeys.  

2. E-signature platform 

The mechanisms for obtaining broad and informed consent are essential components of patient care. Forms requesting general consent for care and treatment are widespread throughout the patient journey.  

However, many organizations still use paper consent forms, which results in several time-consuming manual processes. Moreover, they are easily misplaced, hard to audit, and prone to wear and tear.  

Electronic documentation and signing tools are a great investment for hospitals to create a speedy onboarding process. Documentation and getting patient signatures to become a lot easier with the help of a digital tool tracking the process along the way.  

3. Reports and Analytics Software 

Healthcare reports can aid with process essential data acquisition, waste reduction, and process efficiency. They offer comprehensive insights into every team’s performance and help management access granular data regarding patient needs.   

Its goals are to improve metrics and boost efficiency while lowering errors. It is critical to use data to turn metrics into useful insights that help you find areas of weakness, pinpoint areas of strength, and predict events before they happen.  

Ennoble Care utilizes LeadSquared’s automated reports and workflows to assess areas of improvements. The reports help LeadSquared determine which step of the pipeline needs refinement also helped them save hours of time every week.  

With the addition of LeadSquared, we were able to take our workflows and use automations to have set structures in place. We also have dashboards that help us categorize leads based on source, type, and stage. 

Hicham Moro, Operations Manager, Ennoble Care

 With that, we reach the end of this section and the tools you must implement to successfully map patient journeys.  

In Conclusion 

Patient journey mapping transforms the healthcare experience from a purely reactive to a proactive one. By designing journeys for your patients, you may reduce unmet needs and establish strong preventative routines, allowing your patients to stay as healthy as possible for as long as feasible.  

Educating consumers and patients based on their current situation and what they want fosters trust and confidence. In order to enhance the patient experience and increase retention, providers must map the patient journey as healthcare becomes more consumer-driven. Healthcare facility growth hinges on establishing the most seamless patient journey possible. 

The key to developing a patient journey map that works is establishing integrated technologies that convey information seamlessly. Finally, you should be able to connect your operational and experience data to the touchpoints on your patient journey map for the most effective outcomes.