How Wayfinding is Powering the Digital Hospital of the Future

January 1, 2019 by Jody Shaffer
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In an era when patients expect to be treated as valued 'customers' and hospitals are measured by patient satisfaction and HCAHPS scores, innovative hospital administrators know that an exceptional patient experience is no longer simply a ‘nice-to-have'; instead, it's become a competitive differentiator.

Enhancing a patient’s experience necessitates having an accurate understanding of what is happening around a patient at any given time and anticipating what is likely to happen in the near future.

This kind of visibility and foresight, commonly associated with the aviation industry and the military, is referred to as 'patient situational awareness' and it is at the heart of modern digital hospitals. Patient situational awareness lies at the heart of a functioning real-time health care system. According to a Gartner research report, Situational Awareness Is at the Heart of the Real-Time Health Care System, Situational awareness involves:

1. Gathering information;
2. Understanding that information in context;
3. Making short term predictions based on the current state.

Positive Patient Identification (PPID) and Wireless Health Care Asset Management (WHAM) will play a pivotal role in the hospital of the future by giving hospitals an infinite awareness into the patient context and condition at any point in time. Enterprise wayfinding platforms, the Internet of Things (IoT) and Location Condition-Sensing Technologies (LCSTs) are the backbone for patient situational awareness; collecting a stream of data from sensors, applications and systems throughout the hospital.

As patients, staff, and medical equipment move through a hospital, the enterprise's wayfinding platform constantly tracks their movement, using existing Wi-Fi networks, tags, bracelets, and mobile applications encoded with unique identification information. This ability to positively identify patients and equipment as they move through the hospital improves patient safety, prevents infant abduction, and patient wandering, while simultaneously improving patient throughput, capacity management, and operational efficiency.

Wayfinding's role in the modern hospitals doesn’t only contribute to making situational awareness a reality, it promotes patient self-service, something patients are already accustomed to and comfortable with in their interactions with airports, car rental agencies, and supermarkets. In fact they are likely to actively seek out self-service points to avoid delays.

For hospitals with increasingly stretched resources, removing time spent on non-value adding tasks such as patient registration, patient check-in, and providing patients with directions – through self-service – is critical to improving operational efficiency which, in turn, will improve the patient experience.

“When we talk to our staff, the amount of time they spend looking for stretchers and wheelchairs is inordinate”, says Humber River Hospital president and CEO Dr. Reuben Devlin

The ‘digital hospital’ of the future is not just about technology, it’s about creating an exceptional experience for patients and staff alike. Exciting new developments in indoor mapping, wayfinding, the IoT and LCSTs are making this a reality; helping hospitals transform into more patient-centric environments.

Updated January 1, 2019: This post was originally published on March 17th, 2015 and has been updated to provide more information.

Jody Shaffer is the VP of Marketing for Inpixon. Beyond her passion for marketing, Jody aspires to run a half marathon. She gets lots of practice chasing her two young daughters around the house.