When patients and their families enter a hospital, they’re stressed out—and, if they can’t find where they need to go, their anxiety levels will increase, maybe even skyrocket as all of the hallways and doors begin to look exactly the same.
This is a significant problem, with one British study showing that nearly seven million outpatient hospital appointments are missed each year there because of navigational problems. This wastes time for patients and medical staff; costs money; frustrates everyone involved; and represents a missed opportunity to improve patient outcomes. Plus, the patients will likely complain about the lack of directions, which can damage the healthcare brand.
As the patients or guests continue to look for their destination, they will probably end up asking busy healthcare staff for directions—which can also lead to plenty of frustration.
The solution, of course, is optimal wayfinding solutions. How should is crucial digital signage in hospitals or other medical facilities be placed? This post offers strategies.
Wayfinding Signage Pathways in Hospitals and Healthcare Facilities
At a high level, the goal is to direct patients, families, visitors, vendors, and visiting staff from car garages, parking lots, and hospital entryways to their destinations—and then back to their transportation.
Then, although one main goal is to get people to appropriate sections of the hospital, they should also let them know which areas are restricted and which ones are available to the public, which helps to enhance safety and security in the facilities. Another goal of this type of signage is to manage the directions in which people walk and how they circulate throughout the building and outdoor spaces.
Before getting down to the nitty-gritty of digital wayfinding placement, consider the big picture, including:
- Types of transportation that people might use to get to your facility
- Where they would park or drop off riders
- Exterior landmarks to guide people inside
- How the building is laid out
- Logical pathways for people to head to destinations
- Floor and room numbering systems
- Greeting/check in desk placements
Also consider what’s unique to your facility and list navigational pathways where visitors to your facilities experience the most uncertainty or confusion.
According to International Health Facility Guidelines, it’s important to “create well-structured paths” without overwhelming someone with too many options. This starts with an overall site plan of the facility in the main reception area. Then, hospital wayfinding signage should be placed, according to these guidelines, “at decision points to assist in making wayfinding decisions.”
Signage should be placed in key areas, which include the following.
Marking Facility Entrances and Exits
All should be clear from all reasonable angles of approach. When there are multiple entrances and exits, common language should be used on signs throughout, although it often makes sense to fully highlight the main point of egress.
Leveraging Interior Design
Inside, the hospital is typically divided into zones and spaces within each zone. Use signage to differentiate among them and to indicate when someone is leaving one area and approaching or entering another. If there are memorable landmarks, such as a piece of sculpture, you can point those out to orient people as they approach an area.
Orienting, Directing, and Identifying
Optimal hospital wayfinding solutions will provide all three types of information:
- Orientation: These signs include maps, floor plans, and directories, offering “you are here” notifications and allowing them to compare their location with their destination.
- Directional: These signs point out routes and directions, using arrows and other visuals. Some hospitals may decide to use color coding, icons, or other imagery to distinguish zones and areas.
- Identification: These signs include the name and/or function of the building/department/room that a person is in or approaching. Identifying signs often supplement digital wayfinding signage.
Walking the Pathways
When it’s time to determine the most helpful placement of your hospital wayfinding signage, have select people walk through the facility with a variety of destinations in mind. Ideally, they are new to the facility or at least relatively so. Have them mark down where they got confused about where to go and at what points digital signage could have helped them.
Through this process, you can identify decision points where visitors must decide whether to go straight or to turn (and in what direction). You can also decide where a patient would want confirmation that, yes, they’re still navigating the right path. Signage should be helpful for people approaching from any possible direction.
As part of this process, if there’s current signage, ask the people who are walking through your facilities to determine if there is over-signage at any point. If alternative paths exist, discuss how much information is helpful and what crosses over into too much.
A Few More Tips
As you design wayfinding pathways in your facilities, consider how to provide general information and then narrow it down to more specific details, as needed, keeping all as streamlined as possible. Also consider emergency exit signage needs.
Hospital Wayfinding Solutions at MDM Commercial
If you need assistance in deciding the most optimal digital wayfinding signage for your healthcare facilities, please contact us online or call 800-359-6741. We offer a wide range of options with an experienced team ready and willing to help you choose models with precisely the right features and benefits for your needs.
You can count on the latest in quality LED and LCD hardware and premier operating software. We take the stress out of planning by guiding you through the selection process and then we also offer excellent setup and installation services to take you from start to finish.
MDM can customize your digital wayfinding interfaces as our content creation and graphics team crafts messaging that’s enhanced with branded imagery to dynamically communicate with patients and their families, plus vendors, visitors, and more. We use easy to read typography and easy to recognize pictorials.
Our decades of experience translates into seamless hospital wayfinding solutions that are unsurpassed in the industry, fitting your unique needs and budget.