University of Auckland and Helius are mapping medicinal cannabis journeys in New Zealand

Can you help us map the journeys that medicinal cannabis patients and healthcare professionals take in the process of accessing, prescribing and dispensing products? If so, post-graduate students at the University of Auckland want to hear from you.

Together with post-grad students from the University of Auckland, we are trying to learn more about needs and pain points related to various medicinal cannabis 'journeys'.

Customer journey mapping helps us to understand how patients discover, evaluate, select, purchase and consume medicinal cannabis products or services. As our nascent industry evolves, this work is critical to delivering quality medical experiences in an era of constantly connected, hyper informed patients.

These journey maps often expose pain points and opportunities for improvement in many other areas along the entire user journey – not just as it relates to access, but also the process and overall customer service.

Equally, it is important to understand the journeys and experiences of New Zealand's healthcare professionals – prescribers and pharmacists – as they too navigate this new field of clinical practice.

This is an exercise that healthcare leaders use to better understand how patients interact with the health system throughout their care journey. The journey map, which outlines all of the patient touch points during each stage of interaction, can help the industry to improve medicinal cannabis patient engagement and satisfaction.

Can you help?

We would like to get in touch with patients, pharmacists, and physicians who would be happy to be interviewed online, one-to-one, and talk about their experience related to medical cannabis. Your details will remain confidential. Your insights will contribute to research that will ultimately help create a world-class medicinal cannabis industry, and associated healthcare experience, here in New Zealand.

Please send an email to Charlotta Windahl (, course coordinator at the University of Auckland. Charlotta will then put you directly in contact with the post-graduate researcher.

Importance of patient journeys

Today’s medicinal cannabis consumers are unique — they will evaluate care options and are motivated to conduct extensive research before selecting a care provider. In order to effectively reach and engage today’s selective, value-driven consumers, health systems must focus on creating exceptional experiences for the patient.

The best way to understand the end-to-end customer experience and determine areas for improvement is by mapping the entire patient journey. The journey may begin with a simple web search that brings the consumer to consider a consultation, where they complete a health risk assessment and are later schedule an appointment. The journey continues all the way through the patient’s lifetime so long as they remain engaged in the regulated medicinal cannabis health system, and in the continuum of care.

What elements are we mapping?

To get the most out of the patient journey mapping exercise, it’s important we not only identify points of contact between the health system and the patient, but other factors that might influence the patient’s medicinal cannabis decision or ability to move forward with care, as well.

  • Touchpoints: These include any communications or interactions with the patient, whether in-person, online, or over the phone. For example, opening an email appointment reminder, speaking with the GP clinic's front desk, or picking the the medicinal cannabis product from a pharmacists and receiving follow-up care instructions.

  • Timeline: We will note the amount of time that each interaction (or touchpoint) lasts, the amount of time in between touchpoints, and the overall length of the patient journey.

  • External Influences: Any factors that impact the patient journey that are beyond the health system’s control. For instance, if suitable medicinal cannabis products are not yet available through the regulated industry.

  • Internal Influences: Any factors that impact the patient journey as a result of the health system’s own operations. For instance, if a patients GP is not confident in prescribing medicinal cannabis products.

  • Barriers: Barriers are any factors that may prevent the patient journey from moving forward. Examples of common barriers within the patient journey include cost (if the patient is unable to afford continued cannabis treatment), time conflicts (such as a hectic work schedule or family obligation), the patient’s mental or emotional state, socio-economic pressures, and many others.

We look forward to exploring New Zealand medicinal cannabis journeys and applying these insights to improve the overall experience for patients and healthcare professionals alike.

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