It is not uncommon for patients to get lose their way in the hospital buildings. They find themselves lost in the maze of identical corridors, not knowing where they are supposed to go. Navigating through a health care institution is a real nightmare. The experience is rarely pleasant, so it does not come as a surprise that people prefer to stay at home than to pay a visit to a sick family member or undergo medical treatment themselves.
Do hospitals have a design problem? That is a good question. The design of health facilities certainly lacks practicality. More specifically, the setting is puzzling. Neither patients nor visitors are taken into consideration when it comes down to uniting architecture and technology. The setting is supposed to cater to the needs of people, yet, in reality, it only leads to the creation of stress. Unfortunately, getting lost in the hospital is expensive. It has been estimated that health services are losing money by the millions.
Hospitals are pressured to limit expenditure, which means that something needs to be done. But what? How can hospitals help patients find their way? implementing the following strategies might just work. They meet the rudimentary logic, not to mention that they do not require a great deal of work as far as the implementation process is concerned. Wayfinding is detrimental to the health care system to say the very least. Let us take a close look at the possible solutions.
Modify the technical names for departments
Within the hospital setting, there are various departments, staffed by numerous healthcare professionals. Examples include but are not limited to Anesthetics, Casualty, Chaplaincy, and Diagnostic Imaging. When a person has suffered an accident, they are required to go to the Casualty – in other words, the Accident and Emergency department. The name of the department has a significant impact on the way in which it is perceived by others. This is the reason why it is a good idea to stop utilizing technical names. For a non-technical audience, terminologies are difficult to comprehend.
So, instead of offering a precise description, technical names lead to confusion. Renaming a hospital department may seem like a hazard. Is it really dangerous? As a matter of fact, no. Using simple language simplifies the navigation process. To be more precise, patients are less likely to get lost if they are capable of understanding the area of special expertise. As far as naming departments in a health care institution are concerned, simpler is always better. At present, it is important to have a word that is easy to pronounce and that is recognizable. Instead of saying Otolaryngology, it would better to say ear, nose, and throat (ENT). It is only a suggestion.
Start utilizing hospital signs
It is needless to say that the quality, as well as the flow of information in a healthcare setting, is of paramount importance. Patients, not to mention the individuals working in the busy environment, find navigation confusing and this is all due to the lack of information. There should be signs all over the place. Since signs are no longer crafted out of wood, there should be no problem with making them available in the hospital. What hospital signs do is show patients, visitors, and medical professionals in which way to go, but they also indicate room numbers and store. For more details, please click here.
Getting back on topic, very large facilities should resort to the utilization of signage, whether on the inside or the outside. Signs communicate vital information being read, as opposed to elaborate email messages or detailed explanations. In environments where signage is not present, there is an absolute chaos. Matching the message to the location is realized without much difficulty when hospital signs are in place. In difficult times, signs can act like alert systems, in the sense that they tell people how to avoid unpleasant situations. The problem is addressed at once and there is no need to make alterations in the design. It might just be the perfect cure.
Consider a self-service solution
Interactive kiosks are basically digital terminals that offer access to information and communication applications. It is not hard to understand the usefulness of such devices in a hospital setting. On the one hand, the self-service solution makes it possible for patients to make a map of their destination. People can find the right physician by accessing the map, which points them in the right direction. It is true that a face-to-face conversation with someone from the medical staff comes in handy, but the interactive kiosks are slightly superior.
Thanks to the digitized systems, there is no need to fill out paperwork. The result is that wayfinding is no longer an issue. More and more hospitals are installing digital terminals, so they represent a solution worth considering. The great thing about the kiosks is the fact that they indicate the most direct route, in spite of the fact that vocal prompts and visual landmarks are not present. It does not really matter taking into consideration that it is good for business. Health care professionals are able to avoid appointment no-shows, meaning that patients succeed when it comes to honoring their clinic appointments.
People, for their part, love using technology. They are not required to provide their personal information, as happens when using an application, and they can take advantage of the data whenever they want. Creating a sense of order in a complex environment is not therefore impossible.
Why is it so important to make the hospital easy for patients to navigate?
What is all the fuss about anyway? An institution providing medical and surgical treatment cannot possibly lose that much money from wayfinding issues. Maybe you do not believe us when we affirm that hospitals are losing millions. However, you are capable of understanding that it is the responsibility of the hospital to provide high-quality care to those in suffering. That cannot happen if individuals cannot even make it to the right room.
Ana Miller is a creative writer. Her topics of interest and expertise range from psychology to all sorts of disciplines such as science and news.