Health Service Co-Design


Service touchpoints and hotspots

A touchpoint is any point of contact patients have with your service. A hotspot is a touchpoint that you can improve quickly and easily and has significant impact on patient experiences.

Touchpoints may be tangible or provide tangible evidence of service.These include letters and brochures, websites, signage, equipment for patients (such as gowns) and even the appearance of facilities. Personal interactions (both words and actions) are often important touchpoints too, because they are crucial to service experiences.

In healthcare services, improvement ideas often involve changes to an existing touchpoint, such as using better pictures in an existing brochure. They may also involve new touchpoints, such as using videos instead of brochures to communicate with patients.

Why use it

This tool helps you understand exactly what makes your service work for patients.

Knowing which touchpoints patients value most helps you decide which areas to prioritise for improvement, and how best to do so.

When to use it

The best time to use this tool is after you have developed an understanding of patient experiences and a selection of improvement ideas.

1. Summarise what you know so far about the patient journey

Using the information from your exploration of patient experiences and improvement ideas, fill in the first three columns of the touchpoint development template, starting with good and bad patient experiences of services. For each experience, note the values and actions that contribute to it, then any relevant improvements. Note: this might take a few sheets of paper.

2. Identify possible touchpoints

Review the completed touchpoint development template for each experience and identify existing and/or possible touchpoint ideas.

These touchpoints may be:

  • The way service is currently delivered¬†
  • Ways it could be delivered better.

It is likely interaction-based touchpoints (words and actions) are already listed in the 'values and actions' column, but it is important to include them in the 'touchpoint ideas' column too.

3. Analysis

Using the touchpoint analysis template analyse each touchpoint idea for its value to both patients and your organisation. To do this, simply take each touchpoint in your list and position it on the diagram.

This will involve some discussion over the merits of each touchpoint, and it is important not to rush this. As you do this, you may find it useful to note the criteria or rules-of-thumb you are using to decide, as this helps you keep your decisions consistent. When you have covered all the touchpoints, review your decisions one last time for consistency.

If you discover new improvement ideas and approaches during the analysis, add these to the touchpoint analysis template.

4. Identify which touchpoints to focus on

Shortlist the higher value touchpoints (Boxes 2 and 4) and prioritise those in Box 4. These are your hotspots for immediate attention.

Touchpoints and emotions

"...these [touchpoints] are the points of contact with the service that are intensely 'personal' points on the journey, where one recalls being touched emotionally (feelings) or cognitively (deep and lasting memories) in some indelible kind of way."

(Bate and Robert, 2007).

Touchpoint analysis template

Touchpoint development template