Design in healthcare - mapping the journey of a patient

Updated: Jan 28

Is there a role for strategic design in healthcare?

An increasing number of healthcare providers are grasping the contribution of strategic design in creating and delivering value to their patients.

The first implementation of design in healthcare occurs at the User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) levels. Design aims at creating a smoother experience for a patient while using a company product.


While both UX & UI provide a first contribution to building a better experience for the users they are limited by:

  1. the current understanding of a patient as someone with a (problem) pathology;

  2. the time in which the patient is in contact with the healthcare provider.

The contribution that Strategic Design brings into healthcare is looking at the user not only as someone with pathology but as someone that developed that pathology.

Second, strategic design invites healthcare practitioners to understand the patient experience with the service while experiencing it and looking at the pre- and post- stages, which are frequently ignored as an essential source for new value creation.

The patient journey mapping is a process map monitoring the emotional ups and downs of a patient, or better a ‘patient-persona’.


There are a few necessary steps when creating the patient journey mapping:

  1. Deciding the ‘patient-persona’;

  2. Deciding which experience to monitor of that ‘patient-persona’;

  3. Define steps in the patient process which are particularly emotionally salient (positive or negative);

  4. Create a chart by connecting the dots (emotion levels) in the different step of the process;

  5. Invite members/colleagues to observe the map and provide observations or comments.



Some tips on how to get started:

The customer journey mapping is not precise or correct - it aims at uncovering and visually displaying new opportunities for value creation.

In my experience healthcare practitioners are uneasy when working with such tools and providing the right environment and introduction plays an essential part for the success of a new project.

Monitoring the journey of a patient requires the creation of a shared artefact (similar to the one displayed in the picture above) inviting team members to share ideas and thoughts which will become the raw material for new concepts (product or service).

Bringing the tools of design, (e.g. the patient journey mapping) into healthcare is the exciting and ‘hot’ part, yet the real challenge is getting healthcare providers to think more like designers and accepting uncertainty to uncover un-articulated needs of their patients.


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STEFANO MESSORI - DESIGN STRATEGIST - REMOTE TRAINER & FACILITATOR - DUBLIN (IRELAND)

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