Feature: Digital Tools Help Patients Find Their Way

(from the May 2017 ACP Hospitalist)

Hospitals offer wayfinding apps for patients and staff

Negotiating Mayo Clinic's sprawling headquarters in Rochester, Minn., can be an intimidating experience for first-time visitors. The medical campus encompasses 59 buildings spanning 15 million square feet, connected by a maze of pedestrian skyways and underground walkways.

Soon, however, visitors will be able to type any location into their phone and receive turn-by-turn instructions to their destination.

Five years ago, Mayo introduced a smartphone application that connected patients to their electronic health records (EHRs) and appointment schedules, as well as maps of the campus and points of interest in the surrounding community. Visitors could use the app to view the campus and their current location, but many still had trouble navigating from their cars to points inside the hospital.

“Next-generation indoor mapping is allowing us to implement a much higher level of turn-by-turn directions to route patients through the campus,” said Mark Henderson, Mayo's chair of information technology (IT). “Patients will now have an experience similar to Google Maps, where they will see their real-time location represented by a blue dot moving on a map.”

Like Mayo, many medical centers are taking advantage of advances in technology to update their wayfinding systems and make it easier for visitors and staff to find their way around. While initially developed as navigation aids, the apps have a variety of other potential uses, including equipment tracking and quality improvement.

Read the full article in ACP Hospitalist.

ACP Hospitalist provides news and information about hospital medicine, covering the latest trends and issues in the field.

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