What is Patient Journey Mapping?

Patient Journey Mapping Definition

Patient journey mapping is an exercise that healthcare marketers can use to better understand what individuals experience throughout the entire patient journey. The patient journey map, which outlines all of the patient touch points during each stage of the care journey, aids in creating strategic outreach that improves both patient engagement and satisfaction.

The patient journey typically consists of six stages:

  • Awareness: The patient self-assesses their conditions and symptoms, conducts research, and reaches out to online communities (posing questions on social media, etc.)
  • Help: The patient makes initial contact with a health system. This can be done via call center, email, mobile, etc.
  • Care: The patient is assessed at medical facility (physician’s office, hospital, etc.)
  • Treatment: The health system gives the patient on-site and follow-up care (medications, physical therapy, etc.)
  • Behavioral/Lifestyle Change: The patient makes changes to their routines to reduce readmissions and promote proactive health
  • Ongoing Care/Proactive Health: The patient manages their care between clinical visits. The health system fosters engagement between the patient & physicians to enable the patient to better manage his/her own care. 


Using patient journey maps as guides, healthcare marketers can craft strategic, personalized outreach that keeps patients engaged throughout the care journey, as well as implement programs that fill potential gaps in the care experience. Ultimately, patient journey maps help healthcare marketers improve patient engagement and foster lasting patient-provider relationships.

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Patient Journey Mapping Resources


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Accelerating Success with Marketing Automation: How Scripps Health Drives Patient Journeys

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The Benefits of Creating and Leveraging Customer Journey Maps

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Benefits of Patient Journey Mapping

  • Understand patient experiences throughout their stages of interaction with health systems

  • Expose gaps and opportunities for improvement along the patient journey

  • Create strategic marketing programs to fill gaps and take advantage of opportunities along the patient journey

  • Improve pre- and post-clinical patient engagement through timely, targeted outreach efforts

  • Create personalized experiences for each patient by deeply understanding their needs and preferences

  • Boost retention rates and further population health initiatives by creating long-term patient relationships

  • Keep up with shifting market forces to ensure high rates of patient acquisition and retention

Common Questions About Patient Journey Mapping

  • Why Do Health Systems Need to Focus on Patient Journey Mapping?

    Today’s healthcare consumers are unique— they are flush with care options and motivated to conduct extensive research before selecting a care provider. In order to effectively reach and engage these types of consumers, health systems must focus on excellent customer experiences that attract and retain patients.

    Patient journey mapping is vital to creating great experiences and satisfying patients because they outline what patient interactions currently look like and how they can be improved. This gives health systems templates for successfully providing patients the experiences they’re looking for via personalized, targeted, timely engagement opportunities. By mapping patient journeys, healthcare organizations can successfully attract and retain new types of healthcare consumers.

  • What Do I Need to Embark on the Patient Journey Mapping Process?

    In order to create, implement, and support successful patient journey maps, healthcare organizations must have a deep understanding of the populations they currently serve, and those they wish to serve in the future. Without fully grasping the experience patients want and need, healthcare organizations will have a difficult time identifying gaps in the current care experience.

    To collect, organize, and analyze the large amounts of patient data necessary for this deep understanding, use a healthcare customer relationship management (HCRM) platform, integrated with electronic health records (EHR). The HCRM weaves together clinical data from the EHR, as well as demographic, sociographic, and previous engagement data to create a holistic, 360-degree view of an individual patient. The HCRM can then be used to plan and build strategic, segmented outreach campaigns based around these 360-views.

    Additionally, a marketing automation solution is extremely valuable for patient journey mapping. A marketing automation tool can be used to schedule and deploy the HCRM-derived outreach campaigns at strategic time intervals. This helps keep health systems at the top of patients’ minds by ensuing they do not go too long without receiving an engagement opportunity.   


  • What Does a Patient Journey Map Look Like?

    Here is an example of what a patient journey map for an orthopedic service line could look like: 

    patient journey mapping example