EXCLUSIVE: Guided by Technology

Part 1: Digital wayfinding improves hospital navigation, patient experience

Part 2: Hospital digital wayfinding can be tool for patient engagement

Part 3: Facilities team helps maintain the human connection in digital wayfinding

Hospital digital wayfinding can be tool for patient engagement

By Mike Plotnick for Healthcare Facilities Today
June 21, 2013
Screenshot courtesy of Connexient

Saint Mary's Hospital in Waterbury, Conn. is beta testing a new commercial smartphone and tablet app developed to enhance both wayfinding and patient engagement.  

Available for Apple and Android devices, the MediNav app incorporates stylized indoor maps and turn-by-turn directions so visitors can find any location in the hospital.   

The identical interface is accessible on iPad stations at several kiosks throughout the facility, enabling patients to print out maps via wireless printers or download them directly to their personal device. 

“It’s designed to complement traditional signage and provide more choice to patients and visitors,” says Mark Green, CEO of Connexient, the company that developed the app. “Some people are going to be oriented more to signage and others are more familiar and comfortable using their smartphone.” 

Green says hospitals have experimented with wayfinding kiosks in the past, but many abandoned them when maintenance and content management became too burdensome. The MediNav offers a solution to that issue. 

“Using the real-time map editor tool, facilities can easily makes changes and publish them to whichever area or platform they want to update,” he says.

A built-in QR code reader can also facilitate navigation by enabling patients and visitors to scan static signage within the hospital and instantly receive turn-by-turn directions to their final destination.

“It basically transitions the user from the ‘physical’ world of a static wayfinding sign to the ‘virtual’ world of a smartphone-based indoor map and navigation app,” Green says. 

Beyond the mapping capabilities, the app includes a Parking Planner feature that recommends the closest parking structure to a specific destination, as well as a Car Finder function that lets users save their parking spot so they can recall it later.

Green’s goal is to deliver an end-to-end wayfinding experience that begins from a patient’s home and extends to that person’s entire healthcare network.  

The next generation of the app will integrate a HIPAA-compliant secure messaging platform that enables users to send SMS texts and secure email messages.   

“It will facilitate better overall communications between patients and providers,” he says. “Because all physicians, nurses and staff can be added to the system, it can also serve as a staff communications tool that enables instant communications with anyone in the building.”

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