Dig Deeper into the Emotional Side of the Patient Journey

May 15, 2023

A patient journey map is a valuable tool to understand the entire patient experience that can also be leveraged to develop DTC campaigns in areas you may not have considered.

Although DTC marketing has been used extensively in the pharmaceutical industry, it has been limited to marketing for patient-prescribed devices in the medtech industry. However, in the DTC marketing sphere, a few innovative medical device manufacturers have realized that there may actually be a place for DTC marketing and engaging with patients in device markets that have been traditionally focused on the healthcare practitioner. Patient journey mapping is a critical first step in this process.

Whether you work for a pharmaceutical company, medical device manufacturer, or healthcare organization, understanding the entire patient journey, including the emotional side of this journey, is crucial to determine when, how, and why to engage with the end patient to build a campaign that makes an impact on your market.

This article is the first in a series focused on the steps involved in building an effective DTC campaign in the healthcare space and leveraging modern research methods and technologies to uncover deeper insights to inform each step. Stay tuned for future editions that will be released in the coming weeks.

What Is a Patient Journey Map, and Why Does the Emotional Side Matter?

A patient journey map provides a visual overview of the patient experience, from experiencing initial symptoms to diagnosis, treatment, post-treatment, ongoing management, and all the touchpoints along the way. Examining claims data to understand the touchpoints and how the patient moves through the healthcare system in this journey is important, but focusing only on that aspect misses the mark in delivering a full picture of the patient journey.

Why? Because for patients, their journey to pursue care is about more than the steps they followed: it’s about all the different stakeholders they interacted with, the questions they had at each stage, the obstacles or challenges they faced, and the emotions they felt at different points in the journey.

Going beyond claims data and mapping the full emotional patient journey will help you understand:

  • each step in the patient journey
  • what patients do at each step
  • who they interact with at each step
  • the key decisions they make at each step
  • who/what influences them at each stage
  • the challenges/pain points they face throughout the journey
  • how they feel at each step
  • the information, insights, and support they wish they had
  • the critical highs and lows in the journey

Knowing this crucial information can help you improve your strategy.

While this article focuses on patient journey mapping, understanding the journey from HCP stakeholders’ and caregivers’ perspectives is also an excellent way to uncover insights and ensure you have a 360-degree perspective of what is happening and why.

Benefits of Mapping the Emotional Side of the Patient Journey

Tools such as online communities and social listening are incredibly helpful in mapping the emotional side of the patient journey as they allow you to:

  • Uncover unmet needs and develop a better understanding of patients’ pain points and challenges
  • Develop a more holistic understanding of patients’ needs, at different points in the journey, before and after your product comes into play, to allow you to identify impactful ways of interacting with the patient, or providing additional patient support, and subsequently creating awareness of your product
  • Use the insights you uncover to plan patient and physician segmentation, which provides an even deeper way to understand how different groups interact with your brand
  • Leverage the insights generated to improve patient outcomes and satisfaction while personalizing care delivery

How to Dig Deeper into the Patient Journey

Traditional market research methods like qualitative interviews and online surveys offer valuable insights into the patient journey. However, these approaches have limits: they are tied to a point in time, and it is much more difficult to extract actionable insights when small sample sizes are present (such as for rare disease research, which is prone to small samples).

When you need deeper insights, modern methods, including online communities and social listening, can help you dive deeper into understanding the emotional nuances of the journey.

Online Communities

Online communities are private online platforms that provide a way to conduct qualitative and quantitative research with patients. Their benefits include:

  • Richer Data: Deep dive into patients’ experiences, feelings, and pain points
  • An Extended Time Period for Feedback: Participants can reflect on their thoughts and add details over time, generally over multiple days
  • Versatility: Use different methods to uncover insights, including questionnaires, journals, forums, challenges, and mood boards
  • Building on Ideas: Participants can reflect on and add to others’ responses
Benefits of online communities

If you’re interested in learning more about healthcare online communities in a broader context, check out our webinar on this topic.

Social Listening

Social listening helps you analyze online conversations or comments. It pulls from many online data sources, including social media, online forums, reviews and audio and video recordings. Its benefits include:

  • Evolving Information: Observe the evolution of patient, caregiver or HCP conversations
  • Genuine Feedback: See patients’ real, unfiltered conversations
  • Quantifying Key Decision Drivers: In terms of what is top of mind or most commonly considered when making healthcare decisions
  • Spontaneous Feedback: Uncover pain points, challenges and unmet needs that manufacturers and researchers may not think to ask using traditional methods
  • Longitudinal Analysis: Understand how conversations have evolved over time

Do You Want Better Patient Journey Mapping Insights?

Leger’s team of healthcare research experts can analyze your objectives to provide a custom patient journey mapping solution that helps you uncover better insights. With our wide breadth of expertise in the U.S. and Canada, we would be happy to support you on your next project.

Fill in the form below to contact us.

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