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When a patient decides they need treatment from a healthcare provider, they go through several unique stages before, during, and after their care. Each stage can involve different touchpoints, processes, and required actions or steps. At every point during this journey, it's important for healthcare providers to focus on quality outcomes of care and the patient experience, especially for limited-English proficient (LEP) patients.
A valuable way to encourage this cultural competence in healthcare is to understand the LEP patient journey and when they likely need the most support. To achieve this, using a patient journey map can be especially important for healthcare providers who consistently treat LEP patients.
Sometimes referred to as the healthcare customer journey map, patient journey mapping is like a blueprint that shows the different stages of care a patient goes through during treatment. The map gives a clear overview of contact and communication points — from the time patients develop symptoms until after they have received treatment.
Patient journey mapping allows a healthcare provider to understand patient care in a step-by-step way and see the care plan through the lens of the patient's perspective. This generates several benefits for both patient and provider, including:
LEP patients are highly vulnerable; they are more likely to experience medical errors, lower-quality care, and worse care outcomes than other patients. When you look at an LEP patient journey map, it's clear there are certain points where these patients will need more support. For example, if you have an LEP patient that will be undergoing surgery, mapping will show you that patient will need the most support:
If proper communication is missing during any of these phases of the journey, the patient may be at risk of negative health outcomes or even a negative perception of care. With a good language access plan in place that addresses each of the pain points in the LEP patient journey, the patient is less likely to experience issues.
Additionally, knowing the patient's journey and when they need the most support can be an efficient way to save on translation costs. For example, if you are using an on-demand language support platform, you will know precisely when you will need those services, so you are less likely to waste time or resources.
The stages of the patient journey can be slightly different depending on the depth of examination. However, there will usually be specific phases in the patient's care journey that are marked by different actions.
The patient is spurred to look for care due to symptoms they experience or a specific health event. During this stage, the patient will likely conduct a bit of research to determine if they need treatment and who could provide that treatment.
The patient reaches out for initial contact. This could be placing a call to a provider, sending an email, or even stopping by the office in person to see about an appointment.
The patient is seen by a medical provider. This stage could take place in any medical facility or even via virtual care appointments, such as through a telehealth appointment with a doctor, clinic, nurse practitioner, etc. The provider offers treatment, which could range from simple lifestyle-change recommendations and prescription medications to surgery or a referral to a specialist.
After treatment, the patient moves into either the recovery phase or the disease maintenance phase. During this time, interaction with the provider may still be necessary or frequent. The final phase in the patient journey is the period after treatment has occurred. Some patients will naturally need ongoing care for specific illnesses, while others will move into their routine preventative care plan.
When implemented as a standard of effective healthcare, patient journey mapping offers a wealth of advantages. Want to learn how GLOBO can help your health system create better experiences for LEP patients? Download our workbook, Designing Your Ideal Language Access Plan, to learn how.