We all know patients want help navigating their health and wellbeing. Research and observation show that patients and caregivers appreciate authentic and purposeful engagement that is rooted in their realities.

Every patient has a unique journey and they generally want to do the right thing. It is important to seek intersections of common reality and to illuminate the needs and interests of multiple stakeholders in a way that is relatable and effective. One of the most important and desirable tool sets for healthcare marketers and strategists interested in impacting patient experience is mapping

What is mapping and why is it important?

While it’s cliche to say, mapping helps you see the forest from the trees. It’s crucial that we map various aspects of the healthcare transaction in order to better understand the data we collect and to articulate the best path forward.

Using a healthcare customer journey map can help elevate perspectives in the tactical trenches of work and provide a more objective and holistic view of a stakeholder’s journey–where they’ve been, where they are, and where they want to go. And, perhaps most importantly, mapping can give you the foresight needed to inform strategic and tactical decisions that empower stakeholders to allow you to walk the path with them. 

Picking the right map(s) for the job.

There are several forms of maps, and they are varied in their functions. Maps provide an excellent visual representation of findings and realities at ground level. These tools are extremely helpful when presenting insights to clients and related stakeholders. Maps are even more valuable when you leverage insights and findings into the marketing, communication (internal or external), and patient education programs that you design and implement.

  1. Journey Maps: A patient (or stakeholder) journey map is a visual representation of the process he or she goes through to achieve a goal. With the help of a journey map, you can get a sense of your stakeholder’s motivations, target actions, and messaging to impact a positive outcome.
  2. Expectation Maps: Expectation mapping is a way of visualizing the patient or stakeholder’s emotions within the context of engaging with a specific healthcare product, service, or even general wellness. These maps are an excellent way to explore and understand the evolving expectations of what a quality healthcare experience should feel like.
  3. Stakeholder Maps:  Stakeholder mapping can help you make sense of the needs and efforts of various players that comprise healthcare interactions and shed light on the relationships between those players. They can also help you visually depict and process the range of individuals involved in the interaction with your product, service or experience from within and outside of the healthcare organization. 
  4. Language Maps: A language map (also known as a linguistic map) is a thematic map illuminating the geographic (or, even more locally, internal) distribution of the various speakers of certain languages within your healthcare delivery environment or the community you serve.
  5. Context Maps: A context map is the high-level view of a service environment or healthcare ecosystem as a whole. Consisting of various micro or bounded-contexts (at home versus in a clinic), a formal healthcare context map illuminates how communications might be shared or implemented across the entire system.
  6. Message Maps: A message map is the basic framework used in creating compelling, relevant, and engaging messages for various healthcare audience segments (patient, caregiver, and internal stakeholder). A message map can also serve as an organizational alignment tool to ensure consistency. These maps are excellent for designing and implementing messages across multiple stakeholder channels.
  7. Needs Maps: A needs map is generally intended to help map the needs of various stakeholders and illuminate ways to impact stakeholders in a productive manner. There are many needs at play within a given encounter, and all stakeholders have both primary and secondary needs. Needs maps focus on ‘behavior levers’ that can create behavior change in healthcare. Primary needs can be appreciation, acceptance, or approval. Secondary needs might be admiration, pity, intelligence, or power.
  8. Asset Maps: Asset mapping is a way of understanding the strengths and resources of a department, cohort, or the community at-large. They are an excellent way to uncover potential solution designs.Once you illuminate stakeholder strengths and resources in a map, healthcare strategists and designers can more easily think about how to leverage the various assets to address organizational or community needs and improve health and wellbeing.

It’s time to chart your course. 

As you can see, when conducted thoughtfully and with the appropriate context, mapping can be a powerful design tool in the hands of healthcare marketers and strategists. While there are many different methods at your disposal, they all have the ability to help structure your perceptions, mitigate your own personal biases, and provide you with focused and contextually relevant windows into the lived experiences of your stakeholders. 

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