Wayfinding in Hospital Design
Even as an architect, finding my way around a hospital campus to get to an appointment or visit a patient can be challenging, especially if it is our first time or if we are there with an illness or injury. Architects need to address signage as a component of wayfinding during the design of new facilities or the renovation to an existing facility to ease the navigation of patients and visitors. Signage, identifiable landmarks, colors, building and material cues help with orientation. These cues assist with reducing the stress and anxiety of visitors or patients, and gets them to their final destination quickly.
The patient’s healthcare experience is a major focus for healthcare executives as it directly affects the hospital’s ratings and reimbursements. Wayfinding may only be a small aspect of the patient experience but many articles have recently been written. Kristin D. Zeit, editor of the healthcare design magazine, recently wrote an article specifically on Hospital Wayfinding and the Anxiety Factor. The Wall Street Journal recently published an article, A Cure for Hospital Design which highlights examples of wayfinding and new technologies that are employed. Both of these articles were mentioned in a short article Wayfinding in Hospitals is Old News – But Why is It New Again? by Sara Mayberry, author, blogger, and contributor to Healthcare Magazine. She poses the question in her latest blog, pointing out that this has been a topic of consideration for healthcare designers for over 25 years.
In addition to wayfinding, human interaction between hospital caregivers and visitors or patients must be encouraged and do improve the patient’s experiences and thus hospitals receive a much higher score on patient surveys.