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4 steps to improving the patient journey

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The Team at CallMiner

March 16, 2022

healthcare patient journey
healthcare patient journey

The concept of the patient’s journey for healthcare organizations comes from the wider practice of customer journey mapping, which is already readily used by organizations outside of healthcare, like retail and financial services. Brands and marketers have long understood the importance of understanding each customer’s journey through various stages of engagement.

Optimizing these stages to align more closely with the customer’s goals can grow profits and market share. In healthcare, the concept is now catching on as well, and for very good reason – patients are increasingly behaving like customers.

As patients take a more proactive role in choosing their healthcare providers and seeking out high-quality services at specific rates, the importance of focusing interactions at key touchpoints on each patient’s unique needs has increased.

Whenever a patient interacts with a staff member at your hospital, a new point of their journey is created and characterized by their overall impression of the interaction. This includes everything from scheduling appointments to paying their bill, and the journey could even span multiple providers.

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Improving the patient journey begins with setting up an accurate persona to base your journey map on. Figuring out who your patients actually are, as well as what their unique circumstances and needs may be, can help your healthcare organization improve the patient experience at every interaction.

It can also uncover insights into where your team can improve the journey, such as in the contact center, to help drive patient satisfaction. In doing so, you can better address each of the main steps in your patients’ journey and improve the overall patient experience.

Step 1: Onboarding

Onboarding new patients often means obtaining their personal health information and initiating a record within your own database and/or file system. This first step is vital for compliance, diagnosis and treatment purposes, but it is also fraught with snags and bottlenecks. Issues may arise from the use of outdated, manual data entry processes or some other impediment, but the result – slowing down the patient’s progress from initial contact to treatment – tends to be the same. Digitizing these steps can help to streamline processes and reduce friction that can hinder patient satisfaction.

Besides basic data entry, your onboarding process is likely to benefit from clarity regarding your organization’s services and offerings. Patients often want to be brought up to speed on the availability of treatments and the options that are open to them, but may instead be met with ambiguity or poorly expressed details that derail their decision-making process. Streamlining this step can clear the way for enhanced interactions between your staff and the people you serve.

Step 2: Diagnosis

This step in the patient journey is clearly of crucial importance not only to their experience with your business, but to their bodily well-being as well. Sorting out snags in the diagnosis phase of a patient’s journey can make a serious difference in their health and happiness, leading inevitably to a long-lasting positive impression of your organization and what it stands for.

Although achieving perfect diagnostic certainty with all patients your staff interact with may not be possible and is certainly not strictly necessary for effective treatment, there are numerous tools surfacing on the market with this goal in mind. AI solutions of all kinds have cropped up in the healthcare space and those meant for key proficiencies such as medical imaging can help to dramatically improve diagnostic accuracy over time.

Step 3: Treatment and adherence

Medication and lifestyle suggestion adherence comprise the bulk of prescriptive treatment measures for most patients. Mitigating the relative risks of non-adherence, while maintaining a respectful position towards patients’ autonomy can prove to be a balancing act of sorts. Approaching this step in your patient’s journey with care and consideration is especially important for building a positive relationship between your practitioners and the patients themselves. It can be helpful to consider the circumstantial factors at play in your patients’ lives that may be interfering with their ability to adhere to doctors’ orders. Patients with less resources, inconvenient home locations or disorienting health conditions may find adherence harder than others.

Step 4: Loyalty

Loyalty among your patients brings repeat business and an improved reputation to the table. Loyal patients are also potential brand advocates for the healthcare companies they have personal experience with. Inspiring loyalty in your patients is best done by improving their experience. This can involve a great many things, making this part of the patient journey particularly tough to track in detail. However, making an effort to do so is a great way to discover ways in which your core services can be improved. As patient loyalty builds, so too does your company’s bottom line.

An interesting approach to enhancing this area of your operations involves focusing more on your brand image as this has been found in some studies to directly enhance patient satisfaction which, in turn, improves patient loyalty.

Plotting out the patient journey is crucial to creating a better experience for those who depend on your organization. By leveraging new technology and more patient-centric techniques, you can quickly create a more mutually rewarding environment for your patients and practitioners.

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