Using Customer Journey Mapping to Improve Patient Experience


Bringing in More Patients to Your Dental Practice

The patient experience is a critical component of providing quality healthcare. With the rise of consumerism in healthcare, patients are treating the search for services more like a traditional purchasing decision. To improve the patient experience, dental practices need to take a human-centered, outside-in approach. Customer journey mapping can help you anticipate where and when you’ll be able to convert a patient’s interest into an appointment and retain them for years.

With Now Media Group, a full-service digital marketing agency based out of San Diego, CA, you can optimize digital marketing and help your potential patients get the excellent care they deserve. Call (858) 333-8950 to schedule your consultation with our digital marketing team, specializing in dental practices and small businesses.

What Is Customer Journey Mapping?

A customer journey map visually represents a patient’s contact with your organization. It depicts their path from initial awareness of your brand through the sales funnel to becoming a loyal customer. Journey maps can cover a comprehensive relationship or focus on a specific process, like onboarding.

Journey maps typically include the following elements:

  • Actor: The persona of the customer at that stage of the journey. Their goals, questions, emotions, and challenges
  • Touchpoints: Moments when the actor engages with elements of your organization like marketing, sales, product, or service delivery
  • Channels: How do they interact — email, website, phone, in person?
  • Stage: Stages in the customer cycle include awareness, consideration, conversion, onboarding, retention, and advocacy
  • Metrics: Quantifiable data, like cost per lead, sales cycle length, and net promoter scores

The power of journey mapping is gaining empathy for your customers by walking in their shoes. It helps uncover pain points you may be oblivious to and identifies gaps between customer expectations and reality.

Journey Mapping for Healthcare

Dentists can conduct customer journey mapping exercises for both prospective and current patients. Here are some examples:

  • The patient experience for a first-time appointment:
    • How do they navigate your website to schedule it?
    • How confusing is the paperwork?
    • How welcoming is the clinic environment?
  • The journey through a course of treatment:
    • What education and support is provided?
    • How are side effects handled?
  • Appointments:
    • How easy is it to find the right location?
    • How are results communicated?
    • What next steps are recommended?
  • Scheduling:
    • What channels can they use to book appointments?
    • How easy is it to schedule?
    • How are they reminded of their appointments?
  • Interactions with the billing department:
    • How easy is it to understand and pay a bill?
    • How helpful are staff in resolving issues?

Any touchpoint that impacts patient satisfaction is worth mapping out. The goal is to identify emotional highs that create “wow” moments and frustrations that increase effort. Negative experiences erode loyalty, even if clinical outcomes are good.

Conduct Journey Mapping Workshops

Journey mapping is best done collaboratively in a workshop format. Include representatives from different departments like marketing, clinical operations, patient access, and billing. Ideally, you also want to include patients to share their first-hand experiences.

During the workshops:

  • dentists looking at a laptopCreate hypothetical patient personas that reflect your target demographics. Give a detailed background on their lives and healthcare needs.
  • Map out typical interactions with your organization from that persona’s perspective. Follow the patient step-by-step.
  • Document pain points where expectations weren’t met. What caused frustration or confusion?
  • Look for gaps between siloed departments. Is the hand-off seamless or disjointed?
  • Identify moments of delight that exceed expectations. What drove satisfaction and trust?
  • Brainstorm ideas to improve weak touchpoints. How might a new process or technology help?

The cross-functional workshop builds alignment around delivering a stellar patient experience. It also generates fresh ideas by getting perspectives from across the organization.

Track Experience Metrics

While journey mapping takes a qualitative approach, you need quantitative data to measure progress. Metrics to track include:

  • Patient satisfaction scores
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS)
  • Patient effort score (ease of doing business)
  • Patient churn/retention rate
  • Lead response and conversion rates
  • Bad debt and unpaid bills
  • Waiting times for appointments
  • Time to resolve patient inquiries

These metrics reveal how satisfied patients are across the journey. If they decline, revisit your journey maps to identify areas for improvement. Journey mapping and experience metrics should have a mutually reinforcing relationship.

Optimization Ideas

Here are some ideas to optimize the patient’s journey based on pain points that often emerge:dentists looking at a laptop

  • Streamline Appointment Booking: Let patients book online 24/7 instead of calling during business hours. Integrate with calendars to show real-time availability.
  • Reduce intake complexity: Have forms pre-filled online where possible. Explain the confusing terms and set expectations for wait times.
  • Improve Wayfinding: Use clear signage, floor guides, and friendly staff to direct patients.
  • Enhance Patient Education: Provide easy access to condition details, treatment plans, and medication information. Set expectations before procedures.
  • Communicate: Keep clinicians updated on any outreach from patients to ensure continuity of care.
  • Proactively Resolve Billing Issues: Alert patients early if a claim is denied. Provide transparent estimates with pricing tools. Offer payment plans.
  • Listen to Feedback: Make it easy to review services and share feedback afterward. Take action on suggestions.
  • Show Appreciation: Follow up with thank-you notes after visits. Surprise patients with small delights, like welcome gifts.

The most impactful patient experience optimizations tailor the journey to patients’ needs. Personalization powered by data and analytics will be a crucial strategy. The more you can craft an experience that shows customers you understand them, the deeper loyalty you build.

Customer Journey Mapping Fuels Growth

While the focus of journey mapping is improving patient satisfaction, it also drives growth. By removing roadblocks and friction in the patient experience, you get more people moving through your sales funnel. Journey mapping can boost lead generation and conversions in the following ways:

  • Attract More Prospects: Provide personalized content that speaks to their specific concerns. Feature client success stories that relate to them.
  • Increase Lead Conversion: Nurture leads with helpful resources instead of aggressive sales pitches. Make booking consultations extremely easy.
  • Speed Up Sales Cycle: Sales can reference journey maps to build rapport on pain points. Guide prospects seamlessly through the decision stages.
  • Retain More Customers: Continually refine touchpoints that build loyalty, not just conversions. Surprise and delight patients to earn referrals.

Refine Your Dental Marketing Strategy With Now Media Group

With competition growing, dentists need every advantage to stand out. Journey mapping gives you a rare insight into your patient’s world. By zeroing in on their needs, you can craft experiences that convert prospects into delighted, loyal customers.

Call (858) 333-8950 today to schedule your consultation with our digital marketing representatives. We look forward to helping your practice grow through precise digital marketing.

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