Have you ever felt overwhelmed with the hospital signages when you went for your appointment? Or found yourself walking in circles to find the consulting room? You are not alone.
According to Richard Matyear’s article from “The human cost of hospital navigation issues”, 30% of first-time visitors get confused and lost in hospitals due to the lack of proper wayfinding. Not only that, a quarter of staff report difficulties in finding critical destinations within the hospital. This is an alarming issue because even junior doctors reported getting lost on their way to urgent crash calls.
First things first, what is wayfinding? Based on SEGD, wayfinding refers to information systems that guide people through a physical environment. Healthcare facilities are innate, complex environments. The challenge is to understand how a patient or visitor receives information, such as pending doctor appointment or medical procedure. So, here are five ways design can help with this navigational issue:
Hospitals are always changing, and that’s where using digital screens as part of your wayfinding solution is crucial. The beauty of digital is that it can cater to your audience, and it can be changed in an instant. This is to reduce the patient and visitor’s stress when it comes to finding their way around the building. If you need to accommodate multilingual patients and visitors for your medical clinic, it’s quickly done, and same for disabilities; when something changes, as a wing closed for refurbishment, digital makes updates easy. You can also use a split-screen real estate and put different departments in charge of updates.
Your central communications department might oversee corporate messaging, which they can update remotely, while doctor listings can be updated locally and distribute to multiple screens. While it can seem overwhelming, adopting digital in medical design doesn’t have to be complicated. The key thing to remember is that digital technologies can do what you need it to do. If you have a complex challenge, such as rooms that constantly change with different uses and doctor, then your scheduling system can be integrated with digital screens so that updates are instant and automatic.
A typical response to wayfinding issues will be to set up “more signs”. However, adding more words to more places only adds up to the problem. Current findings on healthcare design and construct have shown that signs alone are inadequate. It is surprising to see mistakes being made with signages.
Here are a few tips:-
Keep your main signage as close as possible to your reception area. A striking logo will attract people towards it. Make sure it’s clear enough for the eye to read without having to focus too much. Also, keep it at eye level; no one is looking at the ceiling when they first walk! Door signage is equally essential. A lot of the time, we see standard door signage vinyl strips in medical centres being used. However, this restricts the sizing of the text that you can use, especially to the visually impaired. So, consider using larger fonts and add numbers to fix this problem. If your signage is clear, the path is clear for your visitors, which allows your practice to work more effectively.
Colour can be a powerful navigation tool to help people find their way around a medical building. When it comes to extensive scale facilities like hospitals with multiple healthcare services such as radiology, oncology, and pathology, wayfinding is more crucial than ever to inform people of the surroundings in unfamiliar environments. Thankfully, the simple use of colour can simplify understanding to new visitors and reduce the risks of getting lost.
Begin at the front door. Create signage that delegates a colour to a specific health service, then link the built environment together with the same colour. For instance, include colour paths on the floor that people can follow. Or, if you have multiple levels in a building, you could delegate a colour to each floor.
Also, group similar services to each floor to simplify the navigation further. For instance, Mental health services on one floor, women’s health on a different floor.
This is the most common place to get lost, and there are multiple reasons for this. One of them is because the signages are unseeable until you reach the front door of where you are going. It’s best to keep the wayfinding going through these spaces. The best part is you can have fun with it as well.
Another reason is that a corridor is easily overlooked by designers and architects as dead spaces. However, corridors have the potential to bring life to a project. Corridors are like veins to humans; they are crucial to keep the flow moving. Sound familiar?
So, if wayfinding is an issue at your healthcare workplace, contact us at Interite Healthcare interiors, and we will help analyse where the problem lies and provide the best solutions for you. You can also view our past completed projects here.