Healthcare facilities come in all shapes and sizes. Sprawling hospitals can take up multiple city blocks and have a dozen entrances, while small specialty clinics might only have a few parking spots and offices. This diversity can leave patients and visitors confused if they have never visited your location for the first time.
Healthcare providers try to assure patients that they will be cared for. They will receive personalized attention and are safe in the hands of doctors and nurses. However, your patients might feel even more stressed if they can’t navigate your campus or facility.
One of the best ways to welcome patients to your clinic is with clear wayfinding. Show patients that you care by following these clear trends to make the navigational experience easier.
Create a Positive First Impression with Effective Wayfinding
Healthcare facilities are no different from any other business. Your patients and their family members will evaluate what they think of your building and facilities within the first few seconds of arriving. The parking lot, building condition, and entry area can assure patients about your quality of care and the treatment they can expect.
“It’s important to recognize where the storytelling begins,” write Philip Pricer and Mike Booth for Medical Construction and Design Magazine. “The first opportunity to engage visitors and provide wayfinding strategies is typically upon arrival to a medical campus or facility.”
Look at the signage at the front of your entrance. What is the first thing your patients see? Adding a larger monument sign at the front or installing a prominent entrance sign can welcome people to your facility and guide them in the right direction. You can use your signage to overcome uncertainty while guiding patients to the right parking area.
Guide Visitors to the Drop-Off and Parking Areas
Oftentimes, a hospital visit is a high-stress situation for people. A future father might feel nervous as he rushes his laboring wife to the maternity ward. A parent might miss a turn while trying to bring their child to the emergency room. Even non-emergency healthcare facilities can create stress for patients who are approaching clinics for the first time.
Within your external wayfinding, clearly guide patients and visitors to the correct areas. This includes your drop-off lanes and your long-term parking garages.
“Proper site planning and site design in a healthcare environment is measured by how easy you make the experience for every scenario that could possibly present,” says Michael Andrewsky, a senior landscape architect. “Vehicle and pedestrian flow, parking and wayfinding, traffic control, calming devices, and lighting are all basic planning and design considerations that should be addressed during site design, not after.”
Your wayfinding needs to be designed for the patients who need help the most, not the hospital staff who are familiar with the various wards and buildings they work in each day.
Take a Comprehensive Approach to Your Wayfinding Experience
One of the best ways to help visitors navigate your campus is to create a consistent environment. Consistency makes it easy for people to learn how to get around, while also removing the stress of new experiences.
For example, you can hang signage by your elevator that explains what occurs on each floor. When your visit exits the elevator, you can have a similar sign guiding them to different wings and rooms. By maintaining the same signage in the same places on all floors, a visitor can easily seek out help even if they have never been inside your facility before.
At Creative Sign Designs, we maintain consistency by bringing clients to our Environmental Graphic Design (EGD) studio. We discuss the client’s goals on a high level and then use our 35 years of experience to create a comprehensive, unified plan for wayfinding. This ensures that every door sign, every map, and every parking lot arrow reflects the client’s brand and creates a positive experience for visitors.
With a comprehensive approach, you can guide patients from the moment they arrive until they leave your facility after treatment.
Guide Patients and Their Families Who Need Help
The best hospital wayfinding can guide patients to exactly where they need to go, but some people still prefer to ask for directions. It’s not uncommon for visitors to a facility to immediately seek out an employee for help. Unfortunately, these conversations can bog down staff members (like doctors and nurses) who need to meet with patients. To solve this problem, provide clear signage to help visitors find your help desk or reception area where they can meet with someone who is hired to guide visitors.
There are multiple ways to take burdens off of your employees with wayfinding. A few options include:
- Hang signs for your information desk that are clearly in view of visitors throughout the building.
- Add maps – with large “you are here” markers – in various parts of your campus.
- Print maps that visitors can carry with them to use as guides.
- Install information phones so visitors can call your reception for directions when they get lost.
Even if your visitors don’t use all of these features, the very presence of maps or nearby helplines can make them feel more comfortable when navigating your facilities.
Know the Most Common Destinations of Patients
Within your healthcare facility, you will likely have three areas: general common areas, specialty offices, and private areas for staff. While your patients and their loved ones will need to find the right office and department for their care, everyone who visits your facility will likely interact with a common area at some point. These common areas include the cafeteria, bathrooms, reception, and parking garages.
Prioritize these high-traffic areas in your signage. Large, clear signs that meet ADA guidelines can help visitors figure out where they need to go. Then you can create more detailed signs for your specialty offices and then signs for your staff members in private areas.
Hire a Design Company With Healthcare Experience
If you are ready to revamp your hospital wayfinding to better accommodate patients, consider hiring a design company that has experience in your industry. Our team at Creative Sign Designs has improved the wayfinding for multiple healthcare facilities. These range from the sprawling 839-bed Sarasota Memorial Hospital to the hospice care centers of Empath Health.
If you need to update your wayfinding, get in touch. We can develop a signage plan that changes how patients and their families interact with your care center.