User journeys need direction, not a dead end

My esteemed colleague and friend Catalina Cernica wrote recently that user journeys are not good for innovation. She argues that by mapping journeys (or persona, touchpoints, etc.), it creates a myopic viewpoint, creating an oversimplification of the very complex healthcare system.

She’s not wrong

I actually fully agree with Catalina, when she says that we should be looking at systems as a whole instead of individual verticals, however, I must come to the defence of user journeys as a tool to help focus us.

Focus is probably one of the most important parts of innovation. That, and flexibility

It’s not the user journey that’s the problem, it’s the execution of the tool

I put it to you that it’s not the the technique that we should throw out, but how we obtain value from it. I find that mapping stakeholder (or user) journey is an invaluable way to understand the big picture from multiple perspectives. The two key words here are multiple perspectives – we shouldn’t just be mapping an individual “user” of our eventual solution, we should be mapping the system from multiple experience points and finding where a solution can solve for as many stakeholders as possible. Of course, you do need to have an area of focus – you can’t be mapping the NHS and social care from multiple perspectives – it’s too big, but you can focus in to a particular aspect of the NHS.

For example, if you want to look at an aspect of the NHS that involved diagnosis, then you would need to consider mapping specific journeys of patients, any healthcare professionals involved in the diagnostic process (nurses, GPs, specialists, radiographers, etc etc), back-office staff in the NHS (administrators, practice managers, IT, etc), governance boards and experts, NICE, diagnostic guidance institutions, patient organisations, payers…

I never said it was simple

Clearly it isn’t, but the fact is that if you are able to map as many stakeholder journeys as possible and anchor it to the patient experience, then you can find some focus on where the opportunities are to solve for as many user needs as required. You just need to use the techniques appropriately.



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