How To Read Your Patients’ Minds

how to read your patient's minds

Don’t you wish you could read your patients’ minds?

At times it would be helpful to know what people are thinking and feeling when we interact with them. We do our best to motivate them to check out our services or follow through with their plan of care. Too often they just don’t seem to get it and we have no clue why.

Here’s what a prospective patient with back pain might be saying to themselves…

“Severe back pain just hit me again, and I’m anxious that I’ll have to take time off from work.

I can’t decide if I want to see a therapist or a chiropractor, I’ve heard good and bad things about both. Next, if I go with a therapist, I must decide which one.

I do a quick Google search and see there are two clinics the same distance from my work so I base my decision on which clinic has the easiest way to schedule an appointment; I don’t want to spend a lot of time on the phone.(which my boss hates)

An important factor for people like me when deciding where to get healthcare, is can I trust them. What’s their bedside manner like? How much time will it take? How much will cost? What will they do to me?

The problem for us is we don’t know what the experience will be like until we’re already there. That makes me a little anxious but this pain is killing me.

While I definitely prefer physical therapy to chiropractors, I also value my time, and I’m not going to spend a half a day just to get some help. I want the total experience to be something I can live with and afford.”

If a therapist created a patient journey map for this acute back pain patient they could quickly see an opportunity to capitalize on prospects who want to take the hassle out of healthcare. Creating a patient journey map can be a challenge but is well worth the effort.

Patient Journey Maps

Today, patients are more informed and want more out of their encounter with healthcare providers. They are paying closer attention to the total experience they receive at our clinics.You will do well to keep this in mind every step of their journey as you carefully design a patient experience that’s truly remarkable.

A patient journey can be described as the quality of experience patients receive from the first point of contact all the way through to the last interaction with your practice. It includes every step from when they first hear about you to the time when they refer one of their friends. One way to analyze and streamline the path is through a patient journey map.

A patient journey map visualizes the path that patients take in order to reach the destination or outcome they want. We want our patients to achieve their goals and enjoy the experience every step of the way. As practice owners, we have goals and we want to enjoy the journey too. A journey map helps you to align what your patients want with what you want to accomplish in your business.

 

Get from Point A to Point B

Creating a patient journey map helps you identify how you help patients get from point A to point B and the steps in between. It creates a repeatable pathway where browsers can be transformed into loyal patients who promote your practice. A journey map also provides a pathway to deliver extraordinary service and build a profitable business.

Most people are out of their comfort zone when encountering healthcare professionals. Their main reason for seeing us is usually something’s wrong in their body. The pain is making them uncomfortable enough to seek a solution. The goal of a patient journey map is to develop an empathetic perspective of what patients are experiencing from their point of view. A map helps to detail patients needs and expectations at each point of the journey.

At each step on the journey, the patient has different needs and expectations. Those needs can be as simple as getting their questions answered or making an appointment. You want to make the next step as clear and straightforward as possible. Our focus is to make every step count as patients move towards the outcomes they want.

Patient Lifecycle

Patient lifecycle

 

A patient lifecycle describes the journey a patient goes through before, during after using your services. It helps to organize your contacts depending on what stage they are in. Interactions are optimized to streamline the series of steps taken by most people. You should nurture relationships with browsers who have shown an interest in you. Address their concerns and questions while waiting for the right time. Prospects have demonstrated more interest in what you do than browsers. They show a readiness to move towards becoming patients. Patients are those prospects who are a good fit for your practice. They make

You should nurture relationships with browsers who have shown an interest in you. Address their concerns and questions while waiting for the right time. Prospects have demonstrated more interest in what you do than browsers. They show a readiness to move towards becoming patients. Patients are those prospects who are a good fit for your practice. They make

Patients are those prospects who are a good fit for your practice. They make their first appointment and become paying clients. Promoters are those patients who become advocates for your practice. They often return for additional care and refer friends to you.

A patient lifecycle is a useful framework for organizing an email marketing strategy.  It guides sending emails targeted towards specific goals that correspond to each stage. Each email creates momentum towards moving prospects down the path to becoming lifelong patients and promoters of your practice.

Essential Elements of Email Marketing

 

Email is incredibility effective

Email is an incredibly effective way to build your practice. But email marketing is much more than writing an email to get people to do something you want them to do. 73% of the people who visit your website are not ready to make a decision. It’s not worth marketing to browsers who don’t see the value of or who can’t pay your service.

Email is an inexpensive way to open a conversation with prospects and learn about them. Your focus is to educate and provide value to nurture interest in prospects to work with you. One of the most effective uses of email communication comes in the form of autoresponders.

Watch the video below to learn how to create a patient journey map.

 

 

 

Create Your Patient Journey Map

There are many ways to create a patient journey map. Some people find it easiest to draw it out on a large whiteboard or poster boards. There are online tools to create mind maps or customer journey maps. The hardest part is just making the time to do it so use the simplest tool you need to get it done.

Below is a list of useful tools and templates:

Scapple

Capterra Mind Mapping Tools

Clarabridge template

 

Patient Touchpoints

Patient Touchpoint

Numerous factors influence what patients encounter at our clinics. There are certain steps that have more effect than others. Touchpoints are the different ways a client can touch or is touched by your practice. Orchestrating key touch points allows you to optimize your resources and maximize your effectiveness.

 

 

Patient TouchpointsTouchpoints can be mapped in a variety of ways. No two clinics maps will look exactly alike. A diagram helps you see the patient journey from your patients perspective. It includes the first point of contact all the way through to word of mouth referrals.  Here are examples of a few key touch points in a typical therapy clinic.

 

 

Now it’s time for you to diagram the steps patients go through when engaging with your practice. Include online and offline interactions to help you understand where and how your patients experience momentum and friction. Here are the simple steps you can take to write your own patient journey map.

I find it easiest to use sticky notes to map out my journey maps on a wall. I use different colors for different lifecycle stages or client types. I like to brainstorm every step I can think of then remove them later if necessary. Keep in mind there isn’t one universal journey map that applies to each practice. They vary based upon each therapist and the current goals of the business.

Now it’s your turn

Before you create your journey map, you should have a patient type to focus on. If you been following along my lifecycle marketing for therapists, you should have some client types in mind. We used browsers, prospects, patients, and promoters, choose one to focus on now.

Next, you need to understand your client’s goals and your own goals. What does this specific client type expect to achieve as they experience each step in the patient lifecycle? What is the specific step you want them to take to grow your practice? These questions are vital because if you’re not meeting your clients needs they will get lost along the way. As a result, you won’t be generating more patients and reaching your income goals.

Identify key touchpoints that occur before, during and after someone receives care at your clinic. You want to make every touchpoint a remarkable patient experience. First, brain dump a list of all the possibilities to improve patient touchpoints. Try to put yourself in your patient’s shoes or better yet ask current patients what you could do to make their experience with you better.

Step back and look at the big picture. Visualize the flow through each stage of the patient journey. Look especially close at the points where clients navigate into the next phase. Browsers raise their hand and become prospects. Prospects take a step forward to set up their first appointment to become patients. Look for those key goal conversion points when both you and your clients are reaching your goals.

Finally, you must prioritize. You can’t change them all at the same time. I’d suggest going after the low-hanging fruit. Prioritize the touchpoints that are the most cost-effective and easiest to optimize. For example, you might choose to send a welcome email after a prospect makes an appointment and make an orientation phone call to decrease no-shows. This would be a relatively quick change to make and easy to track its impact on your cancellation rates.

If you need some help…

You’ll quickly learn that building customer journey map is challenging but well worth it.
Focus less on creating a “perfect” type of patient journey map, there isn’t one. Instead, focus on improving key patient touchpoints one at a time. Chunk the project down into manageable bitesize steps. For most of the therapists I work with unless they break it down into small goals it never gets done. We’re all busy treating patients, writing notes and getting stuff done. Grow your practice one bite at a time.
If you’ve created a customer journey map, please share it in the comments below. I’d love to see your work and how you approached this challenging process.
If you would like some help to guide you through implementing a lifecycle marketing program at your practice. I have an affordable coaching service where I can simplify the process and save you tons of time and money. Check out my mentoring services here.

 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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