27 Aug, 2018 | Written by Premis

Improving Wayfinding in Hospitals

A trip to the hospital can already be a daunting experience. Trying to navigate what is probably a large and unfamiliar building only makes the experience more stressful. And even the best-designed hospital can feel like a labyrinth for your patients or their visiting friends and family.

That’s why “wayfinding” is becoming increasingly popular in hospitals around the country.

Designed to help patients and visitors easily arrive at their intended destination in your hospital with minimal stress, wayfinding is a smart investment, and something worth considering if you’re about to embark on a hospital refurbishment.

What is Wayfinding?

Wayfinding involves finding your way from your current location to your intended destination.  Just as the titular character in Disney’s Moana must use wayfinding to reach an island and complete her quest, a visitor to your hospital can use wayfinding to reach the ward or room they need to get to.

However, in a hospital, in order to facilitate wayfinding, it’s important to consider various design elements you can use to make your hospital more easily navigable and ensure wayfinding becomes a more intuitive process for patients and visitors.

Wayfinding Strategies

Clear signage is the most basic element of wayfinding.

But wayfinding isn’t just about having signs – it’s about what you do with those signs. This includes using “layman’s” terms patients will be familiar with, such as “children’s ward” or “x-ray room” rather than “paediatrics” or “radiology”. (Alternatively, as a compromise, you can use both names.)

Ideally, your signage should be both written and in braille, to accommodate those with visual impairments. Accompanying imagery on your signage – either pictures or symbols – can also help, especially if you have patients or visitors who speak little or no English.

Of course, naming conventions must be consistent throughout your hospital. It’s no use using one name or terminology on your first sign, only to use a different name on another sign. Similarly, your doctors, nurses, orderlies, receptionists, and other staff should use identical “layman’s” terms when they’re giving directions to patients.

Colour-coding various areas of your hospital (and matching this with colour-coded signage) is another great way to help patients and visitors navigate easily and effectively. This may mean colour on your walls, your doors, or other features that clearly delineate one area of your hospital from another.

It’s also worth considering installing interactive kiosks at key points around your hospital, such as at entrances, by lifts and staircases, and in other central locations. Much like the kiosks found in many large shopping centres across the country, these kiosks can provide digital signage and even visual, map-style directions to help patients wayfind around your hospital.

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Premis Solutions have years of experience in hospital refurbishments.  To discuss your next project, contact us today.

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