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Our company name is JourneyLabs and our goal is journey building. We empower our customers to reach out to people on larger scales and provide both synchronous and asynchronous care efficiently. Our customers range from mental healthcare providers to orthopedic surgeons to professional employment organizers. While the day-to-day obligations of these entities may be wildly different, they find themselves stuck in a similar predicament. They have a large group of people to whom they would like to provide help and a programmatic way to do so, but their problems are fundamentally infrastructural – they lack the manpower and capital to enact the quality of outreach they want. 

That’s where we come in. Our journey management platform is designed to allow an individual to easily develop and create protocols to digitally interact with people by utilizing a simple drag-and-drop, if/then engine. JourneyLabs answers the question: “How do I deliver content to my desired users?” but that’s just the first step. When clients are given the opportunity to build out an idea and the tools required to implement and deliver it, an even denser realm of questions opens up. 

Each new customer introduced to our ecosystem is granted a personal server to work within as a system agent. As the system agent, the user can create surveys, upload message banks and documents, and create expansive action-flows. These action flows can prompt the sending of surveys, messages, and documents; manage risk, satisfaction, and engagement levels; and prompt emergency phone calls. The action flows can also respond to and be activated by various criteria such as survey responses, message sentiment levels, or risk and engagement levels. With JourneyLabs, the hardest part of developing a journey protocol is no longer finding the manpower to reach out to a large multitude or the medium in which to develop said journey protocol, but rather deciding exactly how the protocol should look and how it should be properly implemented.  

Simply put, there is a nearly unlimited number of questions that could be asked prior to reaching a feasible outcome: What am I actually going to implement? What do I want to build? How do I want to reach out, via SMS, email, the app itself? Why do I want to reach out? What is the goal of reaching out? Seeing how different users pose their initial questions and approach their problem using the Journey Management system can teach us a lot—not only about different industries, but even about how versatile the Journey Management Software itself can be.  

Much like a business in the process of developing its product, agents within the JourneyLabs journey management system must decide who their target audience is and what their desired outcome is for this audience. From there, an agent can begin to draw out their protocol and fill in the blanks of how they would like to interact. So, while the actual details of how a user or group develops and implements a protocol and the resultant journeys vary wildly from industry to industry, with JourneyLabs, the process usually follows a six-step outline.  

1. Who am I reaching out to? 

Figuring out your target audience is, arguably, the most important step in developing a journey. Nothing is more valuable than knowing to whom you are reaching out. This drives both your end goal and how you’d like to interact with your audience. If the audience is a specific subgroup of a larger population (e.g. severe asthmatic patients between the ages of 18-25 who smoke) then it is likely that the journey you build will be relatively specific and it won’t be hard to identify the categories your users fit into. On the other side of things, you may have a very large and varied population (e.g. all pregnant women within a single hospital system). In this case, you’ll spend a lot of time figuring out your user types (you can have a normal mother versus a mother with preeclampsia) and building out the pathways for each of these different types of user. Almost immediately, you can see how essential it is to get a good picture of your audience.   

2. What is the goal of reaching out to your users? 

Once you know your audience, establishing your desired outcome will change how you structure your program. The questions you ask might include: Is this a program that has a set endpoint? Is this a program to collect information or to drive behavioral change? These questions will help you figure out important details about the journey: how often you reach out to your users, the type of content you send them, how long the program will last. All of these details change depending on the goal of your program.  

3. Are there any industry standards for achieving this goal? 

Whether or not there is an industry standard will have a large effect on steps four, five, and six.  This step is mostly to see if there are any standard tools to help you along in the process of protocol development. Examples could be an entire program, like the CDC diabetes prevention protocol or a single survey like the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) or the PHQ-9. Each of these can help you direct your energy and better understand how others are approaching the problem you are trying to solve. This step is particularly crucial if you don’t have an extensive background in the field you’re developing for.  

4. What are the major steps of the protocol? Do we have to figure them out for ourselves? 

Sometimes, this question can be answered by looking at industry standards, an obvious example being a new mother. Over the course of a pregnancy, a woman will, on average, have 15 total doctor’s appointments before birth. It’s not always this convenient, though. Other times you will need to figure out these steps yourself. A less clear-cut example is managing asthmatic students. If we want to collect information about asthmatic children in schools to ensure that they are healthy and that their albuterol prescriptions are sufficient, you need to interact with them consistently so that we get an accurate picture of a patient’s current status. In order to ensure the data collection is accurate and the training that’s provided is accurate there are a few phases: 

  • A setup phase: to ensure that subsequent interactions with the student are accurate to their condition and age group. 
  • An assessment and baseline establishment phase: to collect baseline information about how each person is doing on average and how much they know at the start 
  • Teaching phase: to see if basic educational tools can improve outcomes for the patient 
  • Check-in and habit establishment phase: this phase monitors the patient’s progress and their ongoing troubles. Check-ins are measured against the baseline established at the beginning of the program.  

These phases are a rough estimate. But it quickly becomes clear how different phases become necessary as you begin to develop a protocol. Without establishing a baseline for patient status, “poor” results on patient status surveys can quickly lose their value in decision-making. Now that we know the major stages of the journey, we can establish what content is needed and what timeline needs to be followed to properly deliver the content and maximize user outcomes. 

5. Now that you know the major steps, what details do you need to track, what content do you need to deliver throughout each of these steps, and do any of these steps overlap? 

Knowing the major steps of the journey opens the door to what minor details are important in each step. Continuing the example of student asthma tracking, in an early assessment and baseline phase it would be important to utilize surveys, questionnaires, and device integrations to better understand the current status of the individual. During an educational phase, it would be far more important to utilize video and document functionalities to deliver content to the user. It is possible each stage could use similar tools with different intentions. And, it’s also possible that each stage could require different tools and interactions. The variability of stage and journey is the cornerstone of the JourneyLabs development mindset. Every aspect of our product has been tooled around the idea that each journey and each stage of these journeys are variable.  

6. Finalize the individual pieces of how you’ll track this information and how to deliver content. 

The final step of protocol development is finalizing the nuts and bolts of each piece of content that is to be delivered. The JourneyLabs journey management platform allows for high-detailed editing of the individual pieces of the journey. Agents need to ask questions: Do I want to send this message via SMS, email, or the [App Name]? Do I deliver this document as a slideshow or a pdf? Would this survey be better for a user to take on a desktop? Should I send it via email? We’ve opened the door for agents to dig down into the specifics of font, text size and color, picture embedding, delivery times and delivery mediums, how long content remains in the system, and much more.  

This process can be incredibly quick and efficient, for example, if the goal of your protocol is to get diabetic patients to report their blood glucose levels.  However, it can also be an incredibly involved process, e.g. the goal of the protocol is to get diabetics to change their behavior and stop eating processed foods. In many cases, the system can serve as a digital whiteboard upon which people draw out their ideas before publishing them into reality.  

Each customer presents a new idea and a new goal, and while each customer follows a pretty similar order of operations to reach their goals, the way each customer thinks about each step, and draws each step out (either on paper, on a flow chart software, or immediately within the system) is wildly different.  In a lot of ways, this is the best way to explain the diversity of the JourneyLabs journey management platform. Whether the goal is a single weekly interaction or a longitudinal life journey, every option is covered.  

That’s the intention of this series, to see how different journeys come to fruition and how different journey builders approach their work. Seeing how someone constructs their protocol within the JourneyLabs journey management system can clarify a lot about the product itself and a lot about our intentions in developing this product. In this series, we will go over the development of a variety of different journeys in order to show the diversity of how the product can be used and also to offer some inspiration for how you may want to create the journey you have in mind, or even to give you inspiration to create a journey you may not have thought of yet.  

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Trevor Docter is a solution scientist for the JourneyLabs team. A graduate of Columbia University with a degree in Neuroscience and Behavior, Trevor works with clients to help them develop their desired protocols and is instrumental in his work with the JourneyLabs development team to help guide the product with the client in mind. This Fall he will be attending the Charité Universitätsmedizin to pursue a master’s degree in medical neuroscienceFor more information about JourneyLabs or to set up a demo of the JourneyLabs platform, email us.

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