Transforming the Patient and Family Experience at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital

Cincinnati Children's Hospital is one of the premier pediatric hospitals in the world. And they know that patients and families deserve empathetic patient experiences. That's why Mad*Pow partnered with CCHMC to build patient journey maps. With Mad*Pow's help, CCHMC made a patient experience that is intuitive and stress-free.


The journey mapping work was based on research. The team first learned how children and their families cope with acute and chronic conditions. But the true win is the journey maps they built. CCHMC's new patient journeys define both short and long-term strategic objectives. Going forward, they will shape patient experiences and the future of the hospital.

The Process: Context for the Patient Journey

Every patient is unique. But millions of patient journeys aren't helpful. So Mad*Pow focused on finding the common themes. They chose two conditions, one chronic and one acute, to map out.

First the team researched real patient journeys, to find the common steps. They looked across multiple specialties, departments, procedures, and complications. They then followed a three-pronged approach to capture the patient experience:

1. Live, On-Location Observations

The strategists and researchers spent over 240 hours observing patients. They used a combination of on-location shadowing and “secret shopping", utilizing hidden, micro camera technology.

The team focused specifically on "touch points", or places where patients interact with the hospital. These included:

  • early awareness of the hospital
  • first visits (including parking and finding the hospital)
  • medical registrations
  • procedures
  • discharges
  • outpatient services

2. Staff Shadowing

The Mad*Pow team shadowed staff on their daily activities. They interviewed them “on the fly” to encourage candid responses. When they saw challenges in real time, they discussed them with staff. All in all, this process allowed the Mad*Pow team to empathize with staff, and advocate for patients.

Longitudinal Patient Journal Study

On the patient side, Mad*Pow still had a lot to learn. So the team began a five-week digital journal study. Journal studies are great for capturing in-depth patient experiences. Patients record what they feel is most important - both the good and the bad. This opened a window into patient's lives.

The Results: A Better Patient Journey

The insights Mad*Pow shared helped CCHMC to build empathy for patients and providers. They were then able to align their business objectives with patient and family needs. This work keeps everyone focused on the patient going forward. It also enabled Cincinnati Children's Hospital to make long-term, high-impact investments to maintain a competitive edge and provide the care that patients expect and deserve.

What's more, leadership will be able to maintain a steady focus on the patient journey as Cincinnati Children's Hospital evolves.

Mad*Pow won the 2019 Design & Innovation Award for Empathy in recognition of its work on behalf of Cincinnati Children's Hospital. Mad*Pow was one of six finalists in the Empathy category. They were crowned the winner at the Design Thinking Conference on April 17, 2019. Read the full press release.

Patient Experience Journey Map
Patient Experience Journey Map


Key Services

  • Research and Training: The research team performed 240 hours of live, in-the-moment, on-location observations to capture patient engagement touchpoints. They shadowed and interviewed staff and collected longitudinal digital patient journals to better understand the patient journey
  • Experience Strategy and Service Design: The strategy team led this project, engaging CCHMC's internal team to better understand their business objectives, patient needs, and ultimately creating a patient journey map to reflect their topmost opportunities and patient engagement touchpoints.
  • Experience Design: A journey map is only as useful if it communicates the strategy. To that end, the design team interpreted the overarching strategy into a visual design that CCHMC's executive team can read and use for years to come.