January 1, 2019

5 Ways Experiential Wayfinding can Improve Healthcare for Veterans

9 minute read

Healthcare for Veterans

Advances in digital wayfinding technologies are giving rise to new opportunities for radically improved customer experiences across a number of industries. One place that stands to benefit significantly from these advances in location-aware technologies is the healthcare sector. The opportunity to reduce the anxiety of patients visiting healthcare facilities, improve the patient experience, and ultimately increase the efficiencies and operations for healthcare facilities is significant. 

In particular, recent media coverage has identified some of the unique challenges Veterans face. And while some VA facilities are taking steps toward improving facilities, there is still room for improvement. Here are five ways that advances in wayfinding technologies can improve the patient experience for Veterans.

1. Experiential Wayfinding Delivers a Better Patient Experience

Wayfinding, in its purest sense, refers to an ensemble of techniques meant to shape a person’s journey in a space. Signage, electronic kiosks, and proximity based messaging are all contributing factors to easing a patient's journey via a wider series of sensorial experiences which are rendered possible by the convergence of technologies – hence, the name: experiential wayfinding.

Integrating point technologies into a holistic wayfinding platform with an intuitive user-friendly interface has the power to radically improve the patient experience. For instance, when a Veteran enters a medical facility, they might encounter a touchscreen kiosk digital wayfinding tool, sometimes called a wayfinding station. The wayfinding station provides  visual and audio prompting to the visitor to swipe their Veteran’s Identification Card (VIC) through an integrated card reader.

Upon swiping the card, the application will return relevant personalized appointment data and provide the appropriate directions using visible and audible prompts. Following the blinking blue dot on their phone, the patient starts navigating towards her appointment. On the way they may become suddenly fatigued, in which case they can use a kiosk to call the operator for assistance. The Veteran could then be automatically connected to a live operator, who would dispatch a porter with a wheelchair to take them the rest of the way.

Additional options, such as advanced searching, highlighted amenities, and animated visual paths (including floor transitions and actual directions), can all add to the experience, decreasing confusion and thus optimizing the caretaking process.

2. Experiential Wayfinding Improves Efficiency

Staff at VA hospitals have to cope with an enormous patient workload. Personally assisting patients in finding their way, handling their appointments, and assigning them to doctors is commendable, but it puts a huge strain on already stretched staff.

If poorly managed, all these operations contribute to exhaustion and an overall reduced satisfaction score on both the side of patients and doctors. According to a recent report by United State Senator Claire McCaskill, "The implementation of enhanced wayfinding mechanisms.. enable medical facilities to better respond to veterans’ needs and provide them with the high quality customer service they are rightfully due."

An integrated wayfinding platform connecting kiosks, tablets, mobile devices, and wall-mounted screens (generically included in “Points of Service”) delivers a single interface to a number of point solutions.

This offers two key benefits:

  • A seamless patient experience across any device (mobile, web, kiosk)

  • Ease of use for administrators (make changes once for all mediums)

All the while significantly reducing the workload on staff, reducing operating costs, and providing an increased return on your technology investment.

3. Experiential Wayfinding Lowers the Anxiety Factor

In the 2014 publication of the aforementioned report, Veterans’ Customer Satisfaction Program, a Veteran commented:

“Appointments are scheduled months in advance. I receive migraines at a moment’s notice which can also cause transient ischemic amnesia. I cannot drive.”

Once again, this highlights some of the unique challenges that Veterans face. In this case, a third party likely needs to drive the person to a VA medical facility. Even with traditional wayfinding systems in place, getting this patient to the hospital is going to be confusing and cause increased levels of anxiety for both parties.

A fully integrated system will provide appointment information on the patient’s mobile device or home computer. The assisting party can use this to follow directions to the hospital through integration with Google Maps, with the latest traffic updates and closest parking information. Upon entering the hospital, a notification appears on the Veteran’s mobile device, activated by beacon technology, to confirm they are now in the hospital reception. Once the patient's arrival is confirmed a notification is sent to the clinic they are visiting.

A message appears on the patient's phone giving details of the appointment and directions to the relevant room in the facility. Following the blinking blue dot on the phone, they make their way to the appointment. The entire visit is transformed from a potentially stressful experience into seamless journey from door to clinic for the patient.

4. Experiential Wayfinding Brings Location-Awareness

Another advantage of an integrated wayfinding platform is the ability to incorporate unique, patient-enhancing features such as beacons for proximity-based messaging and patient location awareness.

With beacons enabled, wayfinding platforms can detect and locate any wireless mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet, and display location information on a map to assist the patient when navigating the facility. In addition, facility administrators can perform detailed analytics on the location data.

Likewise, doctors needing to quickly locate patients can easily navigate unfamiliar facilities through indoor mapping and contextual notifications delivered to their mobile devices.

5. Real-Time Analytics Help Reduce Operating Costs

Integrated wayfinding platforms offer comprehensive real-time activity metrics in the form of data drawn from various sources throughout the facility, such as interactive kiosks, mobile applications, and beacon activity.

Jibestream Analytics

For example, hospitals might track the most congested areas or the average length people spent in specific areas of the facility using data from the beacons. Kiosks provide data about category searches, ranking of searched objects, and the most to least sought after icons, as well as some stuff you might not expect, like the number of notifications each device received on average. 

Typically, reports are displayed within the browser-based reporting portal and can be generated based on various parameters.

All of this data is used to make improvements to the Veteran experience and reduce the workload for healthcare workers. A reduction in operating costs, the consolidation of disparate communication devices, and turning data into actionable intelligence are fundamental to creating a better experience for America’s Veterans.


Image Source: Digital Magic Photography

Updated July 14. 2020: This post was originally published on November 21st, 2014, and has been updated to provide more information and reflect industry progression.

Topic(s): Healthcare , experience

Chris Wiegand

With a track record of success in both business growth and business transformation, Chris Wiegand has dedicated his career to discovering and creating business opportunities that address real-world needs. In 2009, Chris co-founded indoor mapping company Jibestream, and led its incredible growth from an idea to a globally recognized leader in the indoor mapping space. Chris joined the Inpixon team in 2019 with Inpixon’s acquisition of Jibestream, where he continues to be a leading voice in the indoor intelligence space, driving success for the company’s indoor intelligence solutions.

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