Healthcare Journey Mapping Is in for 2016!

Innovation Perspective by: Kristin Chandler, Ascension Seton Innovation & Technology Commercialization Team


Get Up to Speed on Design Thinking

If you’ve read my first two blogs What the &^%* is Design Thinking and If You Have a Baby at Seton, the term ‘journey map’ or ‘customer journey map’ isn’t entirely new to you. In case you are just tuning in, I encourage you to read both of them.  The first provides a primer on design thinking (or my version anyway) and will provide some context to this article.  If you don’t feel like it, that’s fine too, read on.

Journey Map Defined: It’s a Tool that Tells a Story

A customer journey map (also known as an experience map) is just one communication tool utilized within service design or design thinking to demonstrate and describe a user’s experience through a given service.  It’s a simple tool that tells a story, the customer’s story, over time.

More formally, it is, “an oriented graph that describes the journey of a user by representing the different touchpoints that characterize his interaction with the service.”[1]

Furthermore, “in this kind of visualization, the interaction is described step by step as in the classical blueprint, but there is a stronger emphasis on some aspects as the flux of information and the physical devices involved. At the same time there is a higher level of synthesis than in the blueprint: the representation is simplified through the loss of the redundant information and of the deepest details.”

Here is an example of a New Patient Journey Map


What Does a Journey Map Get Us? Revealed Insights

“Plotting out a customer’s emotional landscape by way of a Customer Journey Map, or Experience Map, along their path sheds ­­­­light on key opportunities for deepening those relationships.”[2]

In other words, this tool helps organize and present knowledge in a simple way, which in turn, reveals problems to work on.  It can also build a shared frame of reference (understanding) of the customer experience within an organization.

In the case Seton’s 2013 New Parent Experience project, our journey map revealed a LOT but for now I’ll just share a couple of insights:

  1. Seton’s first interaction with expectant parents could use some improvement
  2. (Huge) opportunities for more post-partum attention for new mothers
  3. How post-partum services were markedly different from an expectant mother’s pregnancy care options (common across different kinds of healthcare providers)

A Chance to Re-Design (Re-Map) Experiences

Journey maps provide not only a tangible visual model (and deliverable) but in conjunction with design thinking, can help reshape and redesign customer experience and influence strategic direction.  They can help untangle and decode customer experience(s) in a way that creates significant opportunities for us to make those experiences better and innovate.

Here’s an explanation of the Journey Mapping Process, showing how it ends in and leads to re-design


The Journey Mapping Macro Trend in Healthcare

Seems like a no-brainer right?

Journey mapping in healthcare is not new. Most of the early stories about journey mapping applications in healthcare began around 2012. In 2013 James Oliver, the Experience Design Lead at Mayo Clinic explained journey mapping and other design tools to help shape patient experiences. Now, it is catching on more than ever.

More in the healthcare marketing circles have taken hold of this tool (and process), and Franklin Street a healthcare marketing firm, is projecting in its fifth annual Hospital and Health Care Marketing Trends Report, “that the patient journey will be one of the macro trends in 2016.”[3]  Yay for journey mapping!

You Have No Idea What Your Patients Are Experiencing

So, stop assuming you know what your customer (patient) thinks, wants or experiences and really figure it out with journey mapping.  I’ll leave at it that for now.

Journey Mapping Resources

If you’re ready to learn more or get started, I’ve selected a few resources for you to peruse (and get your design juices flowing).

  1. Adaptive Path breaks down the Anatomy of an Experience Maphere and they also have a free guide, which walks you through the whole experience map shebang.



  1. Watch Jessica Dugan whiteboard the process in the following (short, 4 minute) video, Design Thinking 101: Customer Journey Mapping from Peer Insight.

Hooked? Let’s Map Together

As always, email us if journey mapping (or design thinking) has piqued your interest, and thanks for reading.

[1] Reference

[2] Reference

[3] Reference