26 Jun The Digital Evolution of the Patient Journey
The healthcare system is big on patient journeys (or journey mapping or any other number of names). These are basically used to record patients describing their interactions with care providers, specialists and the hospital system. This research has been useful in knowing what drives patient sentiment and what else may drive the primary care or specialist prescription writing over time.
On top of this are the branded and unbranded marketing organizations at pharmaceutical companies, the marketing done at hospital networks and insurance companies. Their goals respectively include:
- Prescription volume
- Patient volume at lower costs of care
- Improved customer service at a lower cost of care
Now add to it all a world that has become customer centric. In every other category, people are being given what they want or need, from entertainment to products, whenever they desire. New expectations for service delivery are being established outside of healthcare.
What’s becoming clear (or at least clearer) in healthcare is that the traditional silo based and “dictatorial” advertising approach of old, while it may have hard or soft numbers backing it, is out of synch with how Gen X on down are consuming information and making decisions. Enter the humble patient journey map. Now with the potential to be transformed into a more useful tool for health care organizations and their marketing services agencies.
This is an evolution in both form and purpose. Start by reframing the idea of patient as a health consumer. A healthcare company objective at the most fundamental level needs to evolve from basic economic transactions with their health consumer. Some kind of relationship to the parties within the healthcare value chain (e.g. providers, health consumer, HR executives, C-suite number crunchers) needs to be formed. We see the evolved journey map as a way for brands to identify and define additional worth for consumers in ways that can be differentiated by how products and services deliver value through human contact and use. By using quant and qual research methods to focus on the improvement of particular health experiences inside and outside of the healthcare system and applying design, science and theory to deliver it, patient care can be fundamentally impacted.
This additional worth can impact any particular point in a patient journey in a number of ways. Is it the right duration and are we initiating, continuing or concluding? Is it the right intensity born out of reflex, habit or something new? Should the interactions be passive, active or interactive and what are the triggers in senses or symbols? And is their meaning and significance embedded in this point that needs to be considered? Does the organization have a regulatory ability to contact a health consumer frequently with new and compelling information?
To get there requires fieldwork to define the journey and its architecture. Then one can work on a particular point in the journey (e.g. ER discharge or health plan enrollment) or within the entire sequence. What begins to emerge is an evolved patient journey, more of what is a human experience, designed in current and desired states with links to corresponding healthcare organization operations. Underpinning this can be a narrative storytelling engine of variable frequency.
It is from these new journey/experience exercises that opportunity planning can arise. And this kind of planning can unlock what were undiscovered or seemingly unimportant points in a person’s interactions with a particular player in the healthcare ecosystem. These points then guide channel based communications activities with the potential for significant improvement in results.
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To contact the author
Rick Shaughnessy, Partner