The Eight C’s of Effective Healthcare Wayfinding

Many healthcare facilities today are clean, modern and state-of-the-art, and have incorporated digital signage into their communications with the public. But places like hospitals are complex environments, and can be confusing to navigate. Adding wayfinding technologies to help people get around can be invaluable to their impression of the service you provide.

You can even adapt an existing digital signage system to include wayfinding – all you need is an interactive screen with a hot spot that flips the display into wayfinding mode.


People visiting a healthcare facility are probably either there for treatment or diagnosis, or visiting someone – so they have a lot on their minds. You want to create healthcare wayfinding that is easy to use and doesn’t add to their stress. Anxiety reduces the body’s ability to heal, and a robust, comprehensive wayfinding system that’s easy to understand and use will relax your visitors and make it easier for them to focus on getting where they need to be. Your screens are one of the first things people will see when entering your facility, and you want things to be as straightforward and easy-to-use as possible.


You want to present information in a clear hierarchy. Placing displays at similar heights and locations throughout your facility helps people predict where to look for the information they need. And make sure your design elements to have a consistent and logical look. Color-coding can help make sense of a lot of information, and allow visitors to quickly find what they are looking for.


One thing people often forget is naming conventions – most people aren’t too familiar with medical terminology, so find patient-friendly, easy-to-understand terms to use. Graphics and maps should be similarly clear and simple to comprehend – with high contrast backgrounds, easy-to-read fonts (san serif work best on digital displays) and exactly the right amount of detail – just enough to communicate what they need.


One of the great advantages of having well-planned digital wayfinding is that the individual visitor is in control, and shouldn’t have to bother staff with questions. However, some people will be less comfortable with technology, or want the human touch. Making sure your staff knows the system, and uses the same terminology as the wayfinding displays, to make it easier for visitors to become proficient at using your wayfinding.


Using digital wayfinding can be a great way to enhance your existing infrastructure, but there are other things you can do as well. Many facilities are using appointment cards with maps, or that point visitors and patients to a website, so they can get familiar with the layout of your facility before arriving. Landmarking areas is also becoming popular – differentiate your many, basically identical corridors with specific art on the walls, or theme-based design (like an area painted with images of fruit for a children’s area, or classic films stills for geriatric care.) The idea is to create a cue-rich environment that supports and aids your visitors as they navigate your facility.


Many people today have mobile devices, such as smartphones, and adding a downloadable wayfinding app really puts the visitor in control. The map comes with them, minimizing the need to go back to a display or ask a staff member. Adding some proximity beacons around your facility can allow the app to provide turn-by-turn directions. You can even add a geofence, a virtual perimeter that pings a smartphone’s GPS when they enter the building or parking lot, and immediately sends a notification welcoming the visitor, and either offering a link to download the wayfinding app or activating it if they already have it installed.


Many healthcare facilities are spread out over several buildings, or even multiple campuses in different locations. Your healthcare wayfinding can be shared everywhere your visitors may need to go, with the same design elements, naming conventions, layouts and smartphone apps unifying everything into a single, comprehensible system.


Once you have worked out all the details of your digital wayfinding, walk the route. Twice. See exactly what using the system is like from a visitor perspective. Take notes at to what is easy, and what could maybe use improvement. Then tweak things to make the entire experience smoother.

You are in the business of healing, and reducing stress by making it easier to get around what is often a complex environment can go a long way toward that end. Ease the burden on your patients and visitors by creating a clear, comprehensive healthcare wayfinding system that helps them get to where they need to go quickly and easily. Contact Visix for help with your wayfinding solution.