By NearForm

Patient journeys must be considered at the start of the healthcare process to ensure a positive experience

The efficient delivery of value to customers is a priority for every business, but it’s a particularly complex goal when applied to healthcare providers. When the customer is a person with health difficulties, a poor customer experience, or patient journey, can have far-reaching consequences.

In this article, we discuss deficiencies in the current approach to patient journeys and outline how the patient experience can be vastly improved by bringing healthcare providers and patients together through discovery engagements.

The current approach to patient care

Healthcare providers know that patient engagement is pivotal to reducing costs and enhancing patient outcomes, but the experiences of many patients and their families illustrate that the patient journey is not generally designed for success.

Up until recently patients have been largely viewed as passive recipients of care, rather than active participants in their own care with clear goals and a level of control that allows them to achieve those goals, but recent trends indicate that healthcare providers are focusing more on patient journeys.

“Companies and brands are now focusing on human experience and patient-centricity in an integrated fashion aiming to execute patient marketing, communications, and support services with a continuous, informed, and humanistic approach—one that senses and responds to patients’ and their families’ needs in all the moments that matter across the journey from diagnosis and therapy to recovery and wellness.” source: Patient engagement 2.0, Deloitte

Healthcare providers can improve the quality of their customers’ experiences by investigating and understanding individual patient journeys and using their findings to improve care delivery and reduce costs.

An effective route to an optimal digital solution is to explore the requirements of patients and providers in well-run discovery workshops and use the results to design a patient journey that meets everyone’s needs.

Changing the approach with discovery engagements

At NearForm, we use discovery engagements to devise fast and effective solutions to our clients’ problems. Through a process of collaboration, design and advanced prototyping, stakeholders come to a shared conclusion of what needs to be done and agree on specific goals and deliverables.

Working with one healthcare provider to build a prototype for a client-centered healthcare application, we came up with a solution that could be scaled across a variety of different healthcare contexts.

Following a series of discovery workshops in which we explored the requirements of a healthcare provider and their customers, we devised a solution based on a central premise: Healthcare should be treated as a business in which the focus is on the customer, who has a choice of services and providers and has control over their own data.

Focusing on the customer

Treating healthcare as a business means giving customers the care they are looking for, in everything from client administration and engagement to the medical services they receive. The healthcare service provider needs to focus on satisfying the customer rather than expecting them to accept the healthcare product on offer.

During our healthcare provider’s discovery engagement, it became clear that patients need a defined client pathway that makes them the focus of the healthcare being delivered. Such a pathway would group the services available to the customer in a process, so that the client is not attempting to navigate the healthcare systems on their own.

Giving the customer an easy way to access the services they want and engage with the service provider is just the start. Customers should have options when it comes to services and providers.

The quality of the care they receive, its delivery and the staff who serve them also needs to meet acceptable standards. Communication should be consistent, clear and swift, and the client should feel that the process of administration and information sharing is secure.

Having agreed on how the patient journey should be delivered and validated our ideas, we developed the prototype for complementary customer and provider apps:

  • The customer app offers a simple intuitive design and a welcoming dashboard outlining the patient’s upcoming services and service providers.
  • The corresponding provider app provides a streamlined way for service providers to manage services, clients, staff and volunteers within their organisation.

The importance of data

The ability to securely share data is key to a healthcare future that empowers patients to take control of their healthcare journeys. This means establishing systems of trust in which personal healthcare information flows smoothly among stakeholders.

Patients need to know that their data is secure if they are to grant access to it when required. How that data is gathered, stored, managed and processed is essential to building and reinforcing that trust.

At NearForm, we are experienced at handling data and engineering complex and sensitive data systems. The healthcare app we designed allows the patient to disable provider access to their data. It also ensures the provider has access only to the data required to deliver the service requested.

The future of patient journeys

The discovery process we embarked on with our healthcare client focused on placing patients at the heart of their own therapy cycle to drive better patient outcomes.

This is where patient-centric care is heading: A place where patients have control of their journeys using technology such as app interfaces that allow patients, carers and support services to interact in ways that are accessible, efficient and lead to the best possible patient outcomes

Patient journeys as they stand are not designed to suit the patient; this results in poorer patient outcomes. The answer is to give patients more control over their care.

Discovery workshops help by bringing healthcare providers and patients together early in their care journey and putting patients at the heart of their therapy options.

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