Digital Wayfinding for Hospitals: Save Time and Improve Accessibility With Beacons
Last Updated: July 30, 2020
Roughly 40-50% of people visiting extensive healthcare facilities find it challenging to get where they have to be, resulting in longer wait times, missed appointments, and patient and visitor dissatisfaction.
Healthcare facilities lose up to $800 million a year due to missed hospital appointments, and most physicians blame a considerable amount of this lost revenue on poor wayfinding.
In today’s world, wayfinding in hospitals goes beyond functional necessity – it serves as an essential factor to boost trust, safety, and satisfaction to assume numero uno status on a hospital’s priority list.
Digital wayfinding for hospitals with the aid of technologies such as beacons can help ease this burden on hospital authorities while improving the patient experience.
Seattle Children’s Hospital and Texas Children’s Hospital are at the forefront of wayfinding innovation.
Beacons for wayfinding in hospitals make it easier for patients and visitors to navigate through the hospital maze. Given the fact that a majority of visitors today are on their smartphones, beacon wayfinding ensures people don’t get lost within the hospital.
Why should hospitals switch to beacons for digital wayfinding?
#1 Remote patient check-in
Beacons can help accelerate the process of admission. Typically, an admitting process takes ample time, which can have severe consequences for the patient.
Patients can fill out forms whether sitting in waiting rooms or before they reach the hospital from their smartphones or prepare what they need for admission with beacons placed in the admissions office.
Visitors prefer fast assistance – they appreciate reduced waiting time, and nothing precedes accelerating wait times.
Patients with the hospital’s app can receive a notification that adds them to the registration queue and given an estimated wait time. Once registered, the app can prompt them to follow an indoor map aided by beacons to their appointment location.
This eliminates friction from one of the most stressful administrative times at hospitals and improves backlog from busy waiting rooms.
From the moment a patient arrives for an appointment, a personalized push notification can greet them and notify the staff simultaneously. The greeting can either include their wait time, directions to their ward, or steps to proceed.
Healthcare facilities are usually complicated spaces containing a maze of hallways, consultation rooms, and departmental wards that causes unwarranted confusion and anxiety for patients and visitors.
Although traditional hospital wayfinding has marginally improved, it may still be challenging to decipher, or rather unhelpful to guide a patient when there are multiple departments and buildings involved.
Often, hospital staff members solicit directions to visitors, which is not ideal given the shortage of resources and how valuable their time is.
With BLE beacon and wireless technology, patients and visitors can be provided with accurate turn-by-turn navigation to wherever they have to go via their hospital app.
The ability for hospitals to provide an interactive step-by-step navigation system substantially improves the patient experience, cuts down on staff interruptions, and helps the hospital gain detailed insights into patient and visitor flow within the facility.
The routes can also be customized for construction routes, limit visitors to staff-only access points, and even warn them to avoid specific areas to support infection control.
#4 Elevated clinical care with location-sensitive communication
Proximity-based notifications are the main highlight of beacons.
Because of their specific range and intuitiveness, beacons can trigger a message when a patient or a doctor enters a particular area aiding in hospital wayfinding.
For instance, if a doctor has to visit a patient next in line, their content can be streamed to them while awaiting a consultation. Internal staff communication can also be highly improved via beacons, and in case of emergencies, the closest available staff can be directed to the patient.
With a plethora of inventory and medical pieces of equipment available at a healthcare facility, medical professionals struggle with locating them in cases of emergency.
Anne Szustek Talbot, who works with BX3, on behalf of Ubihere says, “By affixing beacons, the system’s signals can penetrate through walls and corridors to report the item’s location; accurate to the centimeter. Instead of having to walk from room to room checking for the machine and potentially disrupting other treatments, medical professionals can head straight to the source.”
Beacons help receive a faster response when moments are critical, thus streamlining the process and eliminating stall time.
#5 Personalized engagement
Beacons allow healthcare administrators to personalize information to their visitors and patients.
Dynamic data such as doctor bios and appointment bookings can be added for a comprehensive yet intimate wayfinding experience.
To deliver such an experience, self-navigation in complicated spaces requires unified, simplistic terminology; straightforward directions for separate department wings and preferred pathways with defined pathways are beneficial.
One of the prominent challenges hospitals face is the issue of digital wayfinding that revolves around cell service. Healthcare facilities are large, complex spaces with seemingly endless hallways and rooms.
Cell service is hard to come by in these hallways, resulting in poor service, which skews most wayfinding applications, even maps.
Beacons are at the higher end of the spectrum that significantly overcomes these challenges and can send personalized messages to visitors like directions to a particular wing or a welcome message from the hospital and a little information about the doctor treating them.
Beacons provide a new edge for hospitals with digital wayfinding
Beacons provide an unprecedented opportunity for hospitals to revolutionize both the visitor and patient experience, while also streamlining hospital operations and patient care.
In conjunction with beacons, digital wayfinding kiosks, digital indoor mapping, and digital signage for hospital wayfinding can enable hospitals to improve location and proximity awareness establishing a more familiar and efficient environment.
Lesley Reynolds, the co-founder of Harley Street Skin Clinic, says, “In hallways, interactive map kiosks will help patients who haven’t updated the software find out where they are and clear a route to their preferred spot.”
Technologies such as Electronic Medical Records (EMR) and real-time location systems can also be easily incorporated to improve patient experience and help healthcare staff. Patients can access customized appointment information, such as care plans, questionnaires, and check-in capabilities.
Digital wayfinding with beacons can significantly enhance a patient’s hospital visit and ease their burden with intuitive and straightforward navigation.
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