In our last couple of articles, we talked about creating Patient Personas and Clinic Personas as strategic tools to thrive in our changing world and increasingly challenging marketplace.
Now, we will share a tool to tie these tools together and create a Patient Journey Map. We will define what the journey map is, why we need it and how to create it.
What is a Patient Journey Map?
The Patient Journey is a 5-step path people travel as they:
- Discover you
- Consider working with you
- Engage with you
- Build a relationship with you
- Become raving fans or lifetime patients – members of your “family”
No one finishes this journey alone. If left to themselves, patients will get lost along the way, stall out or lose their way or get distracted. The patient journey is a predictive template and guide for your marketing, communication and follow up efforts
It may seem like a lot of work. We get it- we are not in the business of selling Journey Map creation consulting. We are sharing this because we know when the investment of time is made- it makes a difference. We are sharing this because we care deeply about this profession. The more successful y’all are, the more people that need help will seek help
The Journey Map worksheet we have put together for you works similar to a multiplication table where the intersection of the horizontal & vertical numbers provide the answer.
Our Journey Map works the same way. Where the STEP or STAGE in the journey across the horizontal axis intersects with the areas of PATIENT FOCUS or CHARACTERISTIC on the vertical axis – we fill in that space with:
- what to expect
- what action we need to take
- or words we need to use
This is intended to be an organic document. It changes as your clinic persona changes or your patient personas change. There may be stages or areas of focus you want to add or remove- you certainly can. We are going to start by walking through the stages which is the horizontal axis. Then we move to the vertical axis which is the patient focus/characteristics.
The patient journey begins with awareness. Awareness is just that- making prospective patients aware you exist. Awareness may start with an online search, social media, online reviews, or the most powerful awareness tool- existing patient referrals. It may not be the patient doing to searching. Many potential patients may still be in denial. This is why creating the patient personas and considering who are the key influencers in the patient’s life is important. The patient persona also ensures your marketing efforts are attracting the patients you want to have. Using your patient persona as you build this also ensures you are using the right marketing tool at the right time for the right patients. Don’t abandon traditional marketing if it works for the patient persona
Once the patient or patient’s influencer is aware of your clinic, they move to consideration. Consideration includes, comparing your clinic & services to other options. Again- pull insights from your Patient Personas. Knowing your patients and using language that aligns with their values is key.
Next step is Acquisition- this is when the patient engages with you & makes their first appointment. This is the first step in that “getting to know you” period experience”. This may be the first contact with a human in your clinic. Many new patients are acquired and lost in this phase. In the acquisition phase- this is when the patient makes that first appointment. Staff training is essential! Making sure the patient shows up and ideally brings a family member that is encouraging him or her to seek treatment is important. using mike as an example- he may email one provider, text another and have his wife call the third the influencer in the persona makes a difference at this stage as they may be the person in charge of the acquisition phase.
SERVICE-In this phase- all of the testing, diagnostics, recommendations and fittings occur. This is all you baby!
EMOTIONS PLAY A HUGE ROLE IN THIS STAGE!. How your patient feels trumps how they perceive your skill. Bedside manner matters. This is where your clinic persona truly differentiates you.
In the previous phases of the patient journey, you’ve been building trust – now you are locking in the relationship.
The secret sauce for any successful clinic is retention! This is where you not only have a patient for life, but they are referring other patients to you to become another patient for life. This is your follow up & continued communication makes a huge difference
Calls, texts, Birthday letters, newsletters, emails, follow ups, annual testing, and events
Now we are digging into the Vertical Axis. This is the areas of focus that drives our:
- communications- etc.
When we dig into this part of the mapping process, it’s critical we have our Patient Persona in front of us for reference. What are the specific goals of the patient during the stage of the journey they are in?
What specific actions will the patient most likely take in this stage
You all already know this, but, it’s realizing they need help and as we move the horizontal axis, it is who is available to help me and what are my options? Online, OTC, Big box, Doctor?
Acquisition is making the call or the point of contact to book the appointment. Service is obviously from testing to fitting. Retention is creating a lifelong patient.
TOUCHPOINTS & CHANNELS
A touchpoint is anytime a patient interacts with your brand
Channels are similar to touchpoints but are also how patients communicate with you on platforms such as:
- phone, etc
This is exactly what is says- how your patient feels & thinks at the stage of the journey they are in. Fear, concern, denial, acceptance for treatment, feeling like in the right place, and finally, I’ve found my person.
Pain points are problems or roadblocks that occur at the different stages of the patient journey
OPPORTUNITIES TO IMPROVE
Opportunities to improve- are well, opportunities to improve in all of the above areas. For awareness, it may be identifying your patient personas and how they become aware of you
For consideration, it may be how your front office staff fields questions. For service, it may be your lobby and diagnostic equipment. For retention, it may just be your attentiveness to their needs. Again, no wrong answers here. So many possibilities!
Do you want stop and ask questions right now or do you want us to give examples and we can talk it out based on our patient personas?
To take a look at the complete process from developing Patient Personas, creating your Clinic Persona and finally pulling together a Patient Journey Map, click here
You can download blank forms for your use and check out several examples of completed Patient Journey Maps.