Many healthcare providers face the challenge of budget constraints, limited resources, and having a lot of priorities. With this combination of pressures, streamlining workflows and increasing efficiencies, while also enhancing the quality of care become extremely important to maintain positive patient experiences.
Patient journey mapping is a process that can help care providers to achieve these things. In this article, we will dive deep into patient journey mapping, and how it can be beneficial for all stakeholders.
Patient journey mapping
A patient journey is the process that patients go through when they undergo treatment. This consists of several stages (pre-, during, and post-visit), where each stage consists of one or more touchpoints.
What is patient journey mapping?
A patient journey map (also known as healthcare customer journey map) is a blueprint of all the touchpoints a patient go through in their care journey in a healthcare facility. This includes all the touchpoints pre-, during, and post-visit.
Patient journey mapping is a way to visualize and get an overview of patient experience during their entire care journey. This allows healthcare providers to reconfigure their approach to the treatment and care, seen from the patients’ point of view. Through patient journey mapping, a healthcare provider can identify pain points, potential blind spots, and work on the solutions to these problems. Additionally, this also provides an opportunity to find improvements that can be made, as well as discovering opportunities for innovation.
What is the purpose of patient journey mapping?
Patient journey mapping gives insights into the patient experiences during their care journey in a healthcare facility. It gives an overview of the patient flow in general, and also detailed insights into each touchpoint during their journey. For the care providers, these insights are invaluable for creating create strategies to improve the quality of care, increase efficiency, and improve patient satisfaction.
What are the touchpoints in patient journey mapping?
As mentioned briefly above, a patient journey covers the whole journey, even before the patient arrives at the medical facility and after they receive treatment. Generally, a patient goes through these touchpoints in their journey:
A patient journey starts before a patient arrives in the premises, usually when they book an appointment, choose a service, find the location and reserve a place in the queue.
- Arrival: When a patient arrives for their treatment, they have 2 options to check in: through a self-service kiosk, or reception, where a staff member assists with the check-in or registration process.
- Queuing and waiting: After check-in, the patient usually waits until they’re called. This is where a virtual queuing can help improve patient experience, for example, by allowing them to wait remotely until it’s their turn, and by giving them updates so they know what to expect, and how long until they’re called for the treatment.
- Service: And of course, there’s the treatment itself (often referred to as service), where the patient is seen by a member of the medical staff. The patient is called and receives service/treatment from a staff member with suitable skills for their needs and medical history.
Also referred as the patient retention phase, this is an important part of the patient journey that’s often forgotten after the patient receives the treatment. Getting patient feedback is essential to get insights into the real patient experience and patient satisfaction. Their input can be used to improve the patient journey mapping which in turn improves the patient experience, quality of care, and process efficiency in the healthcare facility.
Key benefits of patient journey mapping in healthcare facilities
Why is patient journey mapping important?
Patient journey mapping is important to improve patient experience, as patients benefit from having clear communication, reduced uncertainties, and knowing what to expect next. Getting an understanding of patient experience and their requirements can help healthcare providers to create personalized and good patient experiences.
For healthcare professionals and hospital management, the insights into patient experience from their perspective is invaluable. This can inform the staff about the gaps in the process, areas for improvement, and opportunities for innovation. With these insights, they can focus on where to allocate the budget, plan the solutions to increase efficiency and improve the quality of care.
What are the benefits of patient journey mapping?
Patient journey mapping gives a lot of benefits for both patients and care providers. Below are some of the benefits of patient journey mapping:
- Seamless and continuous care for patients – there are often gaps in the patient journey due to technology, resources, or other circumstances. A patient journey map allows care providers to identify these gaps and work on a solution to ensure a seamless patient journey
- Removing silos in care – blind spots can occur at any point in the patient journey, from booking an appointment at the beginning, to discharge or follow-up at the end. A well-planned patient journey map helps care providers to actively provide solutions to these issues, and avoid negative patient experience.
- Improved communications between patients and care providers – with a healthcare journey map, uncertainties and inconsistent communications can be eliminated. Regular information and updates for patients can significantly improve patient experience as they know what to expect, while clear communication between care providers helps improve the quality of care.
- Reducing pain points – problems are spotted more easily with a patient journey map, and can be solved quicker, giving the opportunity to reduce or completely avoid pain points for patients.
- Streamlined workflows – clear and mapped patient journeys help optimize processes and streamline workflows. Staff members have clear guidance on the processes and can arm themselves with solutions for anticipated problems.
- Increased efficiency – clear processes for staff, regular information for patients, and streamlined workflows help increase efficiency in the patient journey.
- Continuous improvement – insights into the care journey, backed with patient journey data and feedback gives the opportunity for continuous improvements for the care processes.
Mapping patient journeys
How do you map a patient’s journey?
Mapping a patient journey requires inputs from different stakeholders, including patients and healthcare professionals (carers, general practitioners, specialists, etc.). Here are some steps to create a patient journey map that you can follow:
- Talk to clinicians to build a map of the steps involved in the treatment, to be used as a framework to build experiences around
- Get information about patient journeys from their experiences, and what they want to achieve at the end of their patient journey
- Map out the different paths taken by patients when they’re in the healthcare system
- Identify potential gaps and pain points in the patient journeys, and develop solutions for these problems
- Keep updating the patient journey map as you get insights and feedback from the patient to improve the overall process as well as the patient experience.
How to create an effective patient journey map
A healthcare journey map is often complex as it involves different systems, including hospital information systems and a patient journey management system. Healthcare providers often face challenges such as workflow interruption, complex and ever-changing environment, limited budgets, and a stretched workforce. This in turn has a significant impact on patient experience, where many patients experience uncertainties, long waiting times, and confusion caused by these problems.
The key to creating an effective patient journey, and by extension the mapping, lies in the integration that ties all the systems together for streamlined processes and workflows.
Using HL7 middleware, the hospital system integration with a patient journey management system will enable all relevant patient information to be synchronized between the systems. Practically, this means appointment and visit data are synchronized, and patient records are updated so that they match the information displayed in the patient journey management system.
Having integrated systems that relay information seamlessly is the key to create an effective patient journey map. You can read more about this in our HL7 integration guide.
All these together contribute to create a significantly more effective patient journey.