Designing better mental healthcare facilities

Easier wayfinding around a hospital or other healthcare facility

Creator of navigation solutions, BuzzStreets, and London’s Chelsea & Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust have announced the launch of what they claim is a ‘unique’ indoor wayfinder ‘app’ for hospitals and other healthcare facilities.

Citing research by Deloitte Digital Research which indicates that 87% of patients ask for directions when they visit a hospital or other public health facility, and 30% of first-time visitors 'get lost', the two organisations explain BuzzStreets is designed to help patients and their families navigate their way around more easily, reduce staff time spent giving directions, help ensure patients arrive on time for appointments, reduce stress, and minimise traffic in the corridors.

The new app is part of the CW Innovation programme – a joint initiative between Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and its charity, CW+ – to ‘test and scale’ innovations and digital systems that improve patient care and experience. Following a successful trial, the new system allows visitors to Chelsea & Westminster Hospital to navigate their way from outside to the specific location they need, ‘whether a bed on a ward, a consulting room, the café, or the pharmacy’. The app includes ‘Points of Interest’ such as offices and cafeterias, as well as information on the Trust’s collection of over 2,000 works of art and digital installations. It uses a system of BLE beacons, Wi-Fi signals, and the Earth’s magnetic field, to pinpoint the user’s location, giving them both spoken and visual real-time directions to allow them to navigate the hospital.

BuzzStreets explains that when the user arrives at the hospital, they open the app and key in the required destination location. The app then calculates a route from their current location to the required destination, in in a similar way to a car satellite navigation system. They then press ‘start’, and the app visually shows them where to head and audibly advises them. As they progress along the route, the app constantly updates showing them where they are, and gives them regular voice and visual updates to show them where and when to turn, go straight on, or change floors. It also lets the user know when they have arrived at their destination. However, unlike a car ‘sat-nav’, the system is accurate to 1-2 metres, as the ‘sensors’ are within the hospital.

“The pilot project has already shown that the app reduces frustration for staff and visitors alike,” explains Vanessa Sloane, Deputy Chief Nurse at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. “It helps reduce the anxiety of patients and visitors trying to find their way in the hospital, which previously required contact with multiple different staff. Overall, we’ve seen that the app helps save resources, improves patient outcomes, and enhances the entire hospital experience for patients and their families.”




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