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Demand grows for hospital wayfinding solutions

June 01, 2020

Demand grows for hospital wayfinding solutions
Two trends will drive the adoption of hospital wayfinding technology in the near term, says Tom Jones, Ingram Micro’s pro AV and digital signage expert. Today, more than ever, patients are being funneled to large healthcare facilities for treatment. Incoming patients and visitors who are unfamiliar with the large hospital require assistance in navigating the building’s winding corridors and various wings. At the same time, there’s waning interest in direct physical interaction with reception staff. As a result of both, hospitals are more interested than ever in wayfinding software and technology.

“Traditional wayfinding healthcare technology includes a 45- up to 75-inch large touchscreen display in portrait orientation,” explains Jones. “Often, the solution is connected to a printer so visitors can print a hard copy of directions to make navigating the hospital easier.”

Wayfinding software includes powerful features
Jones continues by explaining that some wayfinding software includes detailed turn-by-turn directions. For example, in addition to a map, the printout might include written directions to follow a blue line painted on the floor, take the elevators up to floor 3 and then follow the yellow line. Due to the large scale of hospitals, including such details makes wayfinding more effective.

“Some wayfinding software also incorporates algorithms to help visitors get from point A to point B in the most efficient way,” adds Jones. “The software can consider cleaning and maintenance schedules, existing foot traffic and more to detour visitors around potential delays. Some software can also account for disabled visitors who might require assistance or alternative paths to get to their desired location.”

BYOD meets wayfinding
A more advanced version of wayfinding incorporates a visitor’s smartphone. Once a visitor enters their destination, rather than print a hard copy of directions, they can scan a unique QR code presented by the wayfinding software. Scanning the code launches a web browser on the visitor’s phone and presents the directions they need to navigate the hospital. An even more advanced version of this incorporates turn-by-turn directions.

The future of hospital wayfinding software
In 2019, students at the Rochester Institute for Technology (RIT) presented a mobile wayfinding solution that incorporates augmented reality (AR)—or, using the smartphone camera to overlay virtual directions as the visitor walks through the hospital. Their solution accounts for HIPAA privacy, lets visitors know if they’re going the wrong way, helps locate restrooms and much more. It’s a great example of where wayfinding software is headed.

From a hardware standpoint, manufacturers have been busy working on new screen coatings that allow common cleaners such as watered-down bleach to be used to disinfect the surface.

“With display prices continuing to drop, new advances in hardware and software and more demand for wayfinding technology, this is a great time to approach your healthcare customers about these powerful solutions,” concludes Jones. “If anyone is interested in learning more about wayfinding and pro AV solutions, please contact me directly.”