There has been a massive shift in the focus of healthcare providers and others in the healthcare industry in recent years. The previous paradigm was product-focused, but the deliberate shift in recent years has brought a more holistic, patient-centric approach. Patient advocacy, support, and engagement are key to success in the industry now, and the major focus is on improving the outcomes that patients experience.
This is where market research comes in. To ensure that these patient-centric goals are met, the healthcare industry needs to understand the patient is outside the clinic. Understanding their goals and experiences is crucial to providing holistic care.
Understanding Patient Journey Mapping
Also known as healthcare process mapping, patient mapping is a market research tool that, when executed correctly, can help those in the healthcare industry get a better understanding of patient-health system interactions. The patient journey map itself outlines all points of interaction between the patient and the care provider during every stage. This map can help create a strategic marketing plan in addition to the healthcare plan.
The Patient Journey
Before one can understand how patient journey mapping can be a pivotal tool in healthcare marketing, one must first understand the typical stages in a patient journey. They are as follows:
Trigger Event – The first stage of the patient journey is the trigger event. This occurs when a patient notices a symptom or considers any underlying health conditions that they have grown concerned about. Included in this stage is research on the symptom and social media interaction.
Initial Contact – Next, a patient makes contact with some healthcare service. They may do this via a phone call, online chat, email, or in-person visit.
Receipt of Care – At this stage, the patient is given an initial assessment at one of a number of different healthcare outlets, whether it be their PCP’s office, a clinic, a hospital, or a care center.
Healthy Changes – In order to prevent or stave off further illness, the patient must make changes to their routines and activities. Depending on the ailment, this could range from dietary changes, activity changes, and even habits for improved mental health.
Proactive Care – The healthcare system works with the patient to monitor their health and keep track of positive and negative changes that the patient has made.
Using a map as a guide, marketers in the healthcare industry can create targeted, strategic marketing plans that help keep patients involved in the healthcare journey. Mapping the patient journey also helps with locating anything that might be missing in the care experience. This allows marketers and the operations team to work on rectifying any issues and implementing any touchpoints that are missing.
Crucial Elements in a Patient Journey Map
To get the most out of patient journey mapping, market researchers need to explore both points of contact and the factors that influence whether or not a patient continues their care. This means that the best patient journey maps cover both qualitative and quantitative data. When creating a patient journey map, the following elements need to be taken into consideration:
Timeline – The amount of time that each step of the patient journey takes is a crucial element in any patient journey map. This metric will help ensure that marketing efforts are extended in the correct areas.
Barriers – Just like in any other industry, the factors that keep patients from moving forward are key in any market research related to healthcare. Without knowing the barriers to entry/continuation, it is impossible to address these issues and rectify them.
Internal and External Influences – In this case, internal influences would be anything within the healthcare system itself that prevents a patient from returning for care. An example of an internal influence would be excessive wait times. External influences are the things that are out of the hands of the health system. An example of this would be a patient relocating.
To learn more about how you can improve your marketing in the healthcare industry through the use of patient journey market research, contact New Perspectives today.