The experience of going to a medical center such as a hospital or physician’s office can be anxious, stressful, and confusing. Patients can get easily turned around, especially if they’re managing health issues that affect their cognitive or motor skills. The consequences can range from missing an appointment to a potentially serious or life-threatening situation. A good wayfinding system that is quickly and easily interpreted is of paramount importance to safely get people where they need to go. It is also important to recognize the wayfinding experience of patients encompasses the entire spectrum of services offered: from signage and maps, both static and digital, to staff and scheduling.
Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center in Vancouver, Washington, recognized the limitations of their wayfinding system and consulted with Anthro-Tech and architecture firm Mayer/Reed to explore how to create an experience that better served their patients.
Based on our research, we recommended Legacy Salmon Creek work to improve its wayfinding experience in three ways:
- provide patients with better wayfinding instructions before arriving at the medical center,
- better equip and empower volunteer staff to handle distressed or confused patients, and
- improved static signage.
During testing, we found these specific upgrades had a greater impact in improving the wayfinding experience for patients and visitors than the installation of a digital kiosk.
After our research, Legacy Salmon Creek worked with Mayer/Reed to design a new static signage system and also invested in resources to further empower their volunteer staff. We also provided Legacy Salmon Creek with a set of best practices concerning digital kiosk design for any future considerations they may have.
Kiosk Design Best Practices
This project consisted of two phases with multiple research methods. Our goals were to assess which tools, strategies, and services people use when finding their way through Salmon Creek, identify their main barriers, and understanding how wayfinding fits into the overall patient experience at Salmon Creek.
We interviewed staff, patients, and visitors to understand their perspectives on the wayfinding experience through Salmon Creek and to identify pain points.
SHADOWING USABILITY STUDIES
We observed participants as they walked through the Medical Center buildings according to scenarios constructed to test paths and locations identified as challenging to work through or find.
We discovered that the static signage system was not optimized to address the needs of patients. We also uncovered inefficiencies in the services provided to patients when it came to navigating their entire experience at Legacy Salmon Creek including scheduling, getting to the facility, parking, and finding their appointment.
PILOT STUDY OF PROTOTYPE STATIC SIGNAGE AND LOW FIDELITY digital KIOSK
The Phase 1 findings informed the design of a prototype wayfinding system consisting of redesigned static signage and a mockup of a digital kiosk. This new system was piloted and again tested with interviews and shadow studies. Anthro-Tech focused on understanding the value of a digital kiosk for providing information to patients during their wayfinding experience.
- Understanding the tools, strategies, and services patients use when wayfinding
- Contextual interviews with hospital staff
- Intercept interviews with patients discussing their wayfinding decision making
- Shadowing studies with recruited participants to understand how a patient would physically move through the environment, what tools they would use and what their main barriers were
- Heuristic analysis of wayfinding and digital kiosks
- Pilot study with prototype signage and kiosk mockup in three locations
- Intercept interviews with patients who interacted with the kiosk mockup to determine their expectations and needs for a digital kiosk
- Shadowing studies to test the efficacy of the pilot signage and their interactions with the kiosk mockup
- Exploring all aspects and touchpoints of a patient’s experience as they wayfind, including information provided before their visit, interactions with staff, and use of informational materials in the facility
- Guidance on best practices for digital kiosks and recommendations on implementation