Journey Mapping: Health Plans Take A Walk In Members’ Shoes

by Darcy Lewis

March 13, 2017

A journey of a thousand miles may begin with just one step. But you need to understand all the steps that follow, too, if you’re going to gain meaningful insights about that journey as a whole.

That’s why health plans use a customer relationship management tool called journey mapping to analyze – and enhance – their members’ start-to-finish experience. An important theme at AHIP’s recent Consumer Experience and Digital Health Forum in Chicago was that understanding what their members experience at every stage can lead to improvements.

Every Member Takes a Journey

The online survey company Survey Monkey defines the customer journey as the complete sum of experiences customers go through when interacting with a company. Instead of looking at just a part of a transaction or experience, the customer journey map documents the full experience of being a customer: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

In the case of health plans, that means mapping out every aspect of buying and using health insurance. What is it like for people doing pre-enrollment research and then enrolling? What is it like to use the plan’s insurance? And — finally — what is it like to make the following year’s enrollment decision?

“Our customers are on a journey to research, purchase, use, and repurchase their health insurance,” explained Jodi Haskin, director of marketing and strategic engagement at the New York health plan CDPHP. “We found that focusing our collaborative thinking around our members and what they experienced helped us create a vision and goals for what we want our member experience to be.”

The Process

To create its member journey map, CDPHP followed a process like this:

  1. Study the current member journey, including necessary steps, activities, and touch points, when the member must come in contact with their health plan.
  2. Plug in the member personas — fictitious composite characters —to put names and faces to the member’s experiences.
  3. Map the member’s expectations and what they likely feel at critical times during their journey (so-called pain points and wow-factor moments).
  4. Envision the health plan’s ideal member experience.
  5. Identify key health plan staff members who can help by offering unexpected insights and refining their area of service.
  6. Keep a record of what worked and what didn’t, including what technologies and tools are helpful or need to be improved.

Putting Journey Mapping to Use for CDPHP

CDPHP, a physician-founded health plan that serves more than 400,000 members in 24 New York counties, started by asking members about their experiences with the company.

In particular, CDPHP was interested in member feedback on its website. “A recurring theme was that although our site appeared organized, it was set up in a way that made sense to CDPHP, not members,” Haskin said. “We learned that members want a web structure they can easily understand, and that simply launching a website doesn’t mean that our members will find what they want.”

The company learned members wanted CDPHP to teach them about health insurance as it relates to them. “They are looking to us for motivation, support, and expertise,” explained Haskin.

As a result, CDPHP is piloting a personalized report for members that includes updated information about their claims and value-added programs relevant to their needs. This Health Value Report is designed to “give members a personal breakdown of health care dollars spent and the protection provided by their health plan,” Haskin said. “They let us know they expect targeted, relevant and personalized content.”

Haskin concluded, “We want to make our members feel like active participants in their health, driving them to achieve the outcomes they desire. Journey mapping is helping us to help them.”