Archives     Advertise     Editorial Calendar     Subscribe     Contact Us    


Wayfinding in Healthcare


 
Art pieces can add both beauty and a geographic reference point.

Periodically Ehc is engaged to conduct work "above and beyond" the traditional campus master plan. Wayfinding is one of those issues with which facilities often struggle, and the result of poor spatial orientation leaves patients, visitors with frustration and a disappointing first impression.

Looking back at client studies, the disconnect typically comes between the desire to create an environment where respect, care, treatment and healing had been the watchwords and instead creating a maze of doors, elevators, hallways, signs, bells, intercom messaging, large, unfriendly waiting areas, open holding areas, equipment parking, crowded care spaces, and unfamiliar faces.

In newer replacement facilities, these conditions have been significantly improved and often eliminated, but many older hospitals still face the wayfinding problem. The future of healthcare transformation points to smaller and more family friendly facilities. This paradigm shift is occurring at a rapid rate as systems merge, consolidate and re-distribute resources into more nimble and accessible shorter stay, ambulatory care styles of design and construction.

In our earlier planning engagements, we learned that leadership was extremely frustrated with this growing list of complaints that they received from patients, guests, family members and friends. A loss of customers became a concern as well, since newer facilities just didn't seem to have the same problem. Many of the complaints related to signage, access, flow patterns/hallways, crowded rooms, slow elevators, safety/security measures, inconvenient disruptions and an overall "unwelcoming" image. These are also the factors mentioned by clients when describing the need to conduct a campus master plan (CMP). What are the differences between a CMP and a wayfinding plan (WFP)?

  • A CMP Leads to major hospital improvements, relocation of departments and the re-sizing of services. Hallways are re-routed and major spatial conditions are improved. A CMP is more expensive.
  • A WFP leads to signage updates, directional support, facelifts, technology apps and process improvements leading to better practices and changes in human behavior. A WFP is less expensive.

In most cases, the original hospital that was constructed some 40+ years ago, has grown exponentially over the years, and evolved from the "place where you were born" to the larger, unwieldy campus you are now visiting. Buildings have been added, adjacent to other buildings, and hallway connectors and elevators haven't been developed to define clear and navigable traffic routes. The building has become a "campus of multiple buildings," and the hospital has grown into a "new town environ" made up of numerous, diverse buildings and services - all vying for entry/exit, convenient linkages, walkways and pathways, but without the benefit of a CMP.

The first, immediate intervention for this dilemma requires a detailed WFP. The analysis begins with a 40,000-foot look at the market through programs like Google Earth and MapQuest to see the regional aspects of the campus in relationship to the larger community. Wayfinding begins on the drive from home to the hospital with community considerations including signage and bus routes and continues with campus considerations including directional assistance to parking lots and garages, front door drop-offs, emergency entries, and a myriad of other destinations in and around what might have become a sprawling campus with medical office buildings, outpatient clinics and imaging centers, a freestanding cancer center or rehabilitation space, laboratory or even separate admitting and billing entrances. For those onsite to visit an admitted patient, the routing might be easier, but the security process could be a nightmare.

We have found that on an acute care campus of medium size there are 30 or more destinating points one might seek out. The good news is there are a number of ways to reduce the stress and avoid the negative experience by improving the situation. First, assess the situation, interview the stakeholders, study the campus conditions (buildings, roads, entryways, signage and existing conditions) and carefully record the visual implications. The resulting images tell a story that begins the initial improvement process.

There are also excellent tools and resources to help with the process. The Veteran's Administration has developed an "Integrated Wayfinding and Recommended Technologies" program. This report is one of the best example of best practices for the public and private sector. In the introduction, the VA suggests: "An expanded definition of the term wayfinding recognizes that visitors use multiple cures and tools to find their destination ... from the spatial relationships manifested by the architecture to the lighting and the interior spaces. A new class of wayfinding tools has emerged with the technology revolution. Global positioning systems (GPS) devices, websites, apps, and on-site touch screens can be effective tools to help people along their journey. The smartphone has become our own personal navigation device."

With forethought and planning, there is no reason why facilities ... even those that have grown convoluted over years of expansion ... can't significantly improve wayfinding and the overall experience for patients, visitors and staff.

A Case Study

Interviews with stakeholders are revealing and often paint a picture of the campus that is both process and people oriented. The ability to capture this message and relay it to the board of directors, who are typically the ultimate decision-makers when it comes to allocating funds, is key to implementing a wayfinding master plan. Below are several quotes from initial interviews with a hospital client in the Atlanta area, which was a classic example of the smaller hospital that grew into a major campus:

  • "Floors don't align, elevators are poorly designated, and destinations aren't understood by staff."
  • "Why can't we have clear maps and floor plans with routes designated without extraneous materials?"
  • "Can't find the Mother/Baby area, and the cafeteria is in an off-beat pathway to the basement."
  • "All signs are different, seem to be in conflict, and the lighting is horrible."
  • "We love the plants and flowers and the sculpture ... helps us find our way back from the basement."
  • "We were here to visit my mom, took forever to find the elevators and then we waited and waited."

To address these concerns and improve wayfinding, Ehc took the following 12 steps:

  1. Review the existing CMP, WFP and Strategic Plan (SP ) ... integrate the findings, goals and objectives.
  2. Communicate the "agreed to WFP Process" to ensure awareness and understanding of actions to be taken along with best-in-practice milestones.
  3. Inventory existing exterior and interior signage (record visually and prepare impressions).
  4. Identify the words and terms used for messaging (seek consistency and simplicity of message).
  5. Re-align placement of signs, hierarchy of message, building character, and directional imagery.
  6. Prepare a comprehensive interior finish, artwork, and graphic standard.
  7. Develop criteria and recommendations for facelift, branding, and community image enhancements.
  8. Prepare WFP orientation maps, instructional materials, and conduct volunteer staff training.
  9. Work on "wellness" incentives to encourage building user modifications and fitness measures.
  10. Explore music, art and cultural themes that benefit the traveler who is making the trip.
  11. Develop a "green" and sustainability theme for the community.
  12. Develop "universally understood" methods and conduct routine WFP updates.

WEB:

Ehc

VA Integrated Wayfinding

 
Share:

Related Articles:


Recent Articles

Alexander Visits Neighborhood Health at East Side in Nashville

VIDEO of United States Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) visiting the Neighborhood Health at East Side health center in Nashville, where he learned more about what the center is doing to provide access to health care services in urban, underserved areas of Nashville.

Read More

AMA Grants MycoDART CPT Code For Its Life-Saving Test

MycoDART, Inc., developer of proprietary DNA tests, announced its second patented assay has been granted a CPT code from the American Medical Association.

Read More

Low-level Alcohol Use Increases Miscarriage Risk

Women who consume alcohol during pregnancy -- even in small amounts -- have a 19% greater risk of miscarriage than women who don't use alcohol, according to a new study by Vanderbilt researchers.

Read More

Beating the Odds

Vanderbilt Children's Hospital researchers play key role in groundbreaking study.

Read More

Hot Topics in Healthcare Law

Never a dull moment ... the highly regulated nature of the healthcare industry keeps America's health lawyers hopping.

Read More

Vanderbilt Children's New Program Leaders, Rankings

Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt has recently welcomed new leaders to oversee specialty programming and again been recognized nationally in multiple specialties.

Read More

Insuring Kids

Local experts offer insight over ongoing coverage concerns for Tennessee children

Read More

Services for Mom & Baby Expanding at TriStar Centennial

Innovative initiatives at TriStar Centennial designed to keep mom and baby safe, together.

Read More

Another Option to Address Pediatric ADHD

NeuroSigma recently received FDA clearance for the first device to treat pediatric ADHD, offering providers, patients and parents a new alternative to medication.

Read More

Back to School Reminders for Patients & Providers

Back-to-school season is here, and it's a great time to talk to patients and parents about starting off the year with healthy habits

Read More

Email Print
 
 

 

 


Tags:
Campus Master Plan, CMP, Easter Healthcare Consulting, Ehc, Hospital Campus, Jim Easter, Wayfinding, WPF
Powered by Bondware
News Publishing Software

The browser you are using is outdated!

You may not be getting all you can out of your browsing experience
and may be open to security risks!

Consider upgrading to the latest version of your browser or choose on below: