How to Effectively Implement a Mobile Wayfinding Solution in Your Hospital

Mobile wayfinding solutions are a proven way to minimize the risk of late or missed appointments and to provide an enhanced experience for patients and their families. Todays wayfinding solutions for healthcare utilize indoor locationing technologies to provide the same type of user experience and directional instructions via smartphones as we are all used to getting in our cars from Google Maps, Waze and others. With these capabilities, patients are able to see themselves walking about the hospital via a “blue dot” moving on a map, just as they are used to watching their car move on a geographic map as they drive about the city.  This reduces the anxiety on patients as they move with confidence throughout the hospital.

At Infinite Leap, we have significant experience in assisting healthcare organizations in the design and implementation of  mobile/digital wayfinding solutions. See below for suggested best practices for efficiently implementing a wayfinding solution.

  1. Look at a Bigger Picture
    When thinking about implementing a wayfinding solution you need to avoid looking at it as a stand-alone system. Ideally, a mobile wayfinding solution should be a part of a healthcare system’s Patient Experience Strategy. The benefit of this holistic approach is that it allows for a seamless patient experience and also identifies how existing (and future) systems and processes can work together to enhance patient experience. For example, when integrated with a scheduling system, the wayfinding solution can send automatic reminders about the upcoming visit and provide patients with the information regarding the fastest way to get to the appointment. A wayfinding solution can also provide location information to other systems, such as patient education systems, triggering dissemination of tailored educational materials to the patients.

  2. Understand Technology Options
    One of the most confusing parts of selecting a wayfinding solution is that there are so many different technology solutions that enable a wayfinding capability. Each one touting its own benefits, and each company convincing in its own way. We really recommend making sure that you take the time (and it does take time) to determine if and how you can leverage your existing investments in technology. For example, if you have existing BLE enabled wi-fi access points they can likely be used in lieu of adding battery powered beacons. If your organization has an RTLS infrastructure in place – it also could be utilized to enable wayfinding. At Infinite Leap we do this through a process we call a “Solution Design,” which includes a technological assessment of existing and/or planned standards within your organization. The goal of this process is to find the most economic way for your organization to get to value as quickly as possible.

  3. Consider Timing
    It is also important to take into account when do you want to go live with the mobile wayfinding. For example, in situations where a quick deployment is needed e.g. to align it with the opening of a new facility, we might recommend unique solutions to suit your needs. For example, deploying all battery-powered beacons, while also having a long-term plan to replace or supplement them with an ethernet-powered infrastructure. Another determinant for the type of technology to be used is access to the areas that require wayfinding infrastructure. One example is that battery-powered devices can be placed in patient care areas without the need for special infection control measures or closing down the area to pull wires. The use of battery-powered beacons could also be a necessity in navigable areas where cabling is not an option, such as outside of a hospital building or a parking garage.

  4. Put Yourself in Your Patients’ Shoes
    If you want your patients to use the wayfinding solution, you must make it easy for them. They need to be able to easily access the wayfinding app via their smartphone (make sure it works on both the Apple and Android platform), they need to be able to intuitively use the app, and they need to be certain that the app is correct. So put yourself in your patients’ shoes – test the app as it would be your first time in the facility, make sure that the locations in the system are labeled the way your patient would search for them, and see what would happen if you follow the wayfinding directors to the dot. Take advantage of your patient advisory boards and don’t be afraid to ask randomly selected patients for assistance with testing the app – their feedback will bring you the most value!

  5. Create a Governance Structure
    To ensure an ongoing success of the initiative, you need to create a proper governance structure. Make sure that your executive steering committee includes members from various parts of the organization, including engineering, patient experience, facilities, process improvement, and marketing. And don’t forget to set aside time for change management meetings to discuss and approve any necessary changes to the system or policies impacted by the implementation of the wayfinding solution.  

  6. Account for the System Upkeep
    When planning for a wayfinding solution, you also need to account for system maintenance, which includes updating maps, Points of Interests (POIs), and routes, as well as replacing batteries in beacons. Without a concentrated focus on a system upkeep, the system will provide inaccurate information, which will result in patients not trusting the app and quickly abandoning its use. Further, when we say “account for system upkeep,” we mean that you need to have specific roles and task assignments. Also, make sure that they are budgeted and resourced appropriately, so they don’t accidentally fall off the table.

  7. Take Time to Audit the System
    Hand-in-hand with a system upkeep comes system audits. You need to regularly audit the system to verify that it is working properly and that the user adoption increases. This can be accomplished by reviewing the number of downloads and monthly active users, as well as monitoring users’ ratings and reviews in the app store. If you see any red flag, you need to act quickly and fix the issue.

  8. Measure and Share Success It is critical that you continually evaluate how the use of a mobile wayfinding solution impacts patient experience and operational efficiencies. In addition to the standard patient satisfaction indexes, such as Press-Ganey, there may also be value in using embedded patient feedback capabilities in the mobile application used for wayfinding itself, or by training greeters to ask for feedback when patients are departing. On the operational side, review data related to on-time visits and an overall volume of patients visits to see if there is a correlation between the use of a wayfinding solution and patient throughput. Finally, if your patients are willing to share their experiences – don’t forget to include it on your website, social media, or a newsletter to further promote the use of the system.

These were just a few examples of best practices that we’ve learned can significantly contribute to a successful wayfinding solution. If you have specific questions, please reach out to us. We will gladly share more insights.