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Patient Journey Mapping is a Path to Better Patient Care


You’re up to date on HCAHPS, but do you know what patients are saying about you on Yelp? 

You’ve been on top of your HCAHPS scores since 2008. But are you paying attention to your reviews on Yelp? Often used to find restaurants, delivery or takeout, Yelp is a mobile phone app that posts crowd sourced reviews of many types of service organizations including hospitals.  In fact there are 254 reviews of hospitals in the greater Indianapolis area.  Highlights of information from such as Average ER Wait Time, Doctor Communication and Quiet Rooms may also be included in the Yelp postings.

So who is posting reviews? Looking over reviewer photos, Millennials, Baby Boomers, Gen X. They are posting about their own experience and of their parents and other family members. What was their path into the reviewed  hospital?  Most times, it was through the ER, but reviewers also commented on mammograms, maternity, and outpatient experiences. Why should this matter to you?  Reviews are definitely a big part of consumer decision making, but are reviews important to your target users? It depends on the patient. World War II generation patients may not care about reviews on Yelp because they tend to use the hospital where their doctor has privileges. However, younger patients often rely heavily on reviews by peers.

So, do you know who your typical patients are? 

  • Where do they live?
  • How old are they?
  • How much education do they have?
  • What’s their income?
  • How big is their family?
  • What kinds of services do they need?
  • What drives them to healthcare? What would drive them to your facility?
  • What path did they take to get to your services?
  • Do they regularly Google their symptoms?
  • How often do they need to use healthcare services?

Census information can give you information about who lives in your neighborhood.  Chart reviews can reveal demographics of current or past users in specific departments.  This information is valuable but does not point to the motivations of patients who are seeking care. 

What are their attitudes towards their health?

  • Indifferent?
  • Too busy taking care of family?
  • Actively destructive?
  • Very doctor compliant?
  • Competitive?
  • Prefer alternative or natural methods?
  • Knowing more about your current and ideal patients can help in marketing efforts.  You can target your promotion and health education materials with messages that appeal to these different types of consumers. More importantly, you can better serve your patient’s needs, be more patient-centered in your care.

    Patient Journey Mapping is a Path to Better Patient Care

    It starts with research.  You gather all the quantitative information you already have—patient satisfaction surveys, demographics, census data. The next step is actual patient conversations. From the patient point of view, what was their journey like?

    • How did they find your facility? Website? Social media? Referral?  Word of mouth? These are called channel preferences.
    • How were they treated at each encounter or touchpoint? Front desk? Taking vitals? Seeing a doctor or other practitioner? Did they feel welcomed and cared for?
    • What were their expectations?
    • Were there frustrations in their experience?
    • How long did they have to wait? How many times was the patient handed off to another provider?
    • Were their questions answered appropriately without hard to understand jargon?
    • Were there bottlenecks in receiving care?
    • Were there the same questions asked of the patient more than once?
    • Were their family members kept in the loop? Did they have a place to eat and relax?
    • What was parking like?
    • What if the patient doesn’t speak English?

    Who are the persons taking the journey? Do they sort out into any groups?  By health attitudes? Computer use? Age? Frequency of care? These groups are called personas. Do patients questions and needs vary with the different groups?

    Now that you have a map and personas, what do you do next?

    Once you map out the people and their characteristics, you can better understand their behavior, goals, and motivations for seeking care. Journey maps can be used for many purposes in efforts to provide the most compassionate patient experience:

    • To prioritize resources
    • To train employees
    • To be creative and innovative
    • Look for opportunities to fix problems
    • To design health information that addresses the motivations and goals of your patient personas
    • To better market to your typical and ideal patients
    • To select the proper channels to communicate with your typical and ideal patients



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