Using Journey Mapping to Visualize Patient Experiences for Quality Improvement Initiatives


The Human Factors Engineering Division (HFE) within the Veterans Heath Administration (VHA) of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention (OMHSP) collaborated in 2019 on a project to identify opportunities to improve the mental health care services for Veterans, specifically for psychotherapy delivery. VHA lacked a comprehensive method for collecting psychotherapy data, including identifying services delivered, conditions and problems addressed, and related patient-reported outcomes both individually and in aggregate.

SST supports HFE with researching techniques for identifying barriers and opportunities for improvement in Veteran patient experience. This includes, for example, establishing means and methods to capture and track over time a given patient’s self-reported psychotherapy outcomes. The outcome of this research was the development of patient journey maps, whose purpose is to facilitate a deeper understanding of the patient/provider experience and to put into place a process for (visually) communicating these experiences, enterprise-wide, to OMHSP stakeholders.

Using journey maps to visualize health practice patterns simplifies the business case for quality improvement. Educating executive sponsors on the end-to-end process, not just the friction points, can make it easier to get buy-in for systemic adjustments that address root causes, remove barriers, and facilitate success. Additionally, it can identify specific problem areas for targeted informatics support to make the best use of limited resources.

Using Journey Mapping to Visualize Patient Experiences