Soon those visiting and working at Miami Valley Hospital will be able to navigate its multiple buildings in the same swift and efficient manner as a traveler walking through an airport.
In 2011, the entire campus will have a brand new system in place to help people reach their destinations. The system, called “wayfinding,” will break the hospital into zones, offering a more standardized approach to hospital navigation.
MVH re-evaluated its navigational system when the new patient tower was being discussed. It was an opportunity to create something better than what it had relied on for many years: employees referring to buildings by various names and greeters giving lengthy instructions to patients and visitors.
In the new year, visitors to the downtown campus will have an entirely new experience in finding their way around. With the help of a directory or greeter, visitors will determine what “path” they need to follow to reach a destination. If they get off course, they’ll have signals to get them back on the right track.
How It Was Created
MVH is confident that the new wayfinding system will be a successful addition to their transformed campus. After all, it’s serving the very people who helped create it.
The hospital consulted the public via focus groups to get their feedback on the hospital’s existing navigational system and suggestions for improving it. They quickly discovered that the hospital buildings and hallways look much different to a patient arriving for the first time than to an employee who works there every day.
“We discovered that when most people arrive on campus, all they see is one big building,” explains Robert Buescher, manager of Internal Communications. “They don’t see all the different additions that employees do. We quickly realized that we had to get away from calling parts of the building by when it was built (e.g., the new wing) or its direction in relation to the central building (e.g., the South Tower).
The hospital also surveyed physicians’ offices that refer patients to the facility. And, as always, it asked its employees how they felt. Once that information was gathered, the hospital sought the expertise of NBBJ, the firm that designed the patient tower.
How It Will Work
The wayfinding system will ultimately flow from the hospital’s new main lobby. Patients entering there may look at a directory or consult the Information Desk staff to determine which path to take. Zones are organized sequentially, with each designated by a letter, a color and an image.
So, for example, people visiting the new patient tower will be directed to Zone D. To get there, they will follow signs designated with the letter D as well as an image of a dogwood flower and the color blue. This wayfinding system accommodates everyone, including those who have reading deficiencies, are non-English speaking or are colorblind.
Still, there’s one aspect of the hospital’s current navigation system that will remain – the personal touch provided by employees.
“One positive thing that came out of our focus groups was hearing how helpful our employees are,” said Nikki Burns, RN, project director for the patient tower. “People told us, no matter what we do, to never lose that.”
MVH met that request, and then some, by adding employees who were solely dedicated to helping visitors find their way. Called ambassadors and greeters, these employees will make sure that visitors always have a friendly face to talk to and receive the help they need whether inside or outside of the building.
Visitors, patients and staff are able to navigate the main campus of MVH with the help of a “wayfinding” system based on letters, colors and floral images.