Digital Wayfinding: How Hospital Administrators Are Using Technology to Improve the Patient Experience
Hospitals have always embraced technological advances in medicine to enable better patient care. Now, those same hospitals are turning to technology as a way to create a more positive patient experience as well. When patients have a choice as to which facility to use, medical reputation alone is not enough to fill beds or clinics. Today’s patients want to get in and out of the hospital with the least amount of hassle and with the most information regarding their care. Hospitals realize they have to be better at engaging patients. One way they are doing that is by using digital wayfinding technology.
No More Lost Patients
Large hospitals are often a confusing maze of buildings, parking lots and hallways. Introducing navigation technology as early as the appointment process allows patients to pre-plan their route and better judge travel time. Within the appointment reminder, patients can be given a link (or QR Code) to select from a printable map or have directions sent to their phone. Once on campus, interactive touch screens direct patients with step by step walking instructions available in multiple languages. When patients prefer human assistance, any staff member with computer access can print a map or use a tablet to display location maps and directions.
Unburden Busy Staff
Hospital personnel are busy. Each time a patient interrupts staff to ask directions, personnel productivity drops. Worse yet, patients often receive inconsistent information. Web-based applications assure patients receive consistent and accurate directions every time. Since one application drives all signage and kiosks, patients can easily be re-routed to avoid temporary closures and construction without having to bother busy employees. In addition, actionable analytics can be used to improve traffic flow through busy areas or around congested elevators.
Boost the Bottom Line
Research shows that poor navigation impacts the bottom line through missed appointments, patient frustration and defection, staff interruptions and lower HCAHPS scores. The numbers are staggering. Over 30 percent of first-time visitors get lost during a hospital visit. The resulting costs for missed appointments is over $150,000 per hospital per year. Add another $220,000 per hospital per year in lost productivity from staff interruptions, and it is clear that digital wayfinding makes economic sense.
Make Technology Part of Your Marketing
Facilities such as Upstate Medical University and Sarasota Memorial Hospital are counting on technology to improve patient engagement and the bottom line. Rather than viewing technology kiosks as an expense, hospital marketing staff now sees digital signage and creative messaging as a way to promote events and even generate advertising revenue.