Improving the patient journey – the four benefits of improved patient wayfinding

| 19. Mar 2020

As all NHS Trusts concentrate on finding innovative, effective and affordable ways to improve the patient journey – it’s important to remember the significance of the first step; the physical journey through the hospital environment.


Almost half of people visiting large healthcare facilities say it’s difficult to find where they have to be[1] which can quickly translate into missed appointments, wasted resource and patient dissatisfaction.


Each year, millions of missed and late hospital appointments are thought to cost the NHS close to £1billion[2] and doctors attribute a significant proportion of this to navigation problems within hospitals settings[3].


For NHS Trusts that are keen to take a holistic view of the patient journey – from the point of entry into the healthcare system, all the way through to diagnosis, treatment, and outpatient care – they must start with wayfinding.  Improved wayfinding has the power to boost patient and visitor satisfaction, reduce waiting times and improve patient outcomes.


Hospitals always feature a wide variety of wall signs, posters, fingerposts, overhead department banners, and maps in order to provide help and guidance for patients, visitors, and staff. But they are not without their limitations. As soon as a patient or visitor moves away from a static map, they leave that information behind.  If they take a wrong turn, they’re lost until they can find another map to do the same again.


In a digital age, there are more intuitive, effective and inclusive ways to improve wayfinding and the answer lies in using smartphones and Augmented Reality to transform existing 2D content into interactive 3D experiences.


Technologies such as GenArate, help to enhance engagement and ensure a much smoother patient journey by overlaying digital information onto real world signage. This means thathospital visitors can transform printed signs into three dimensional, interactive maps that stay on their device and lead to the right department without delay. Visitors simply point their phones at trigger points which have been included on printed signs, to access the new and interactive content.    Video content can be incorporated too, with patients using apps to access personalised welcomes and even virtual ‘nurses’ to guide them through their visit.


In a research trial by the University of Nottingham, patients that were shown a video of their route before carrying out a hospital journey were 30% faster[4] reaching their destination than traditional map users and 40% faster than those with written instructions.  So, if interactive video is put into visitors’ hands for the duration of their journey through a hospital, it makes sense that AR technology will make patient journeys even faster, more accurate and stress-free.


With NHS resources already stretched and growing pressure on patient feedback scores, intuitive technology is the answer. In a busy hospital setting, GenARate helps to lighten the load for medical professionals who often end up providing directions and who can often end up lost themselves.  The technology is so intuitive that in-house IT and communications teams can use it without the need for experience, system integration or even significant investment. This makes it a highly cost-effective quick win for NHS Trusts keen to deliver on their five- and ten-year digital transformation plans.


The four benefits of improved patient wayfinding can be summarised as:


  1. Reduce waiting times – patients are more likely to be on time for their appointments, keeping tighter control on appointment and theatre schedules and increasing the likelihood of positive patient feedback.


  1. Reduce the number of interruptions for consultants, nurses and other staff from ‘lost’ patients and visitors – this will quickly translate into greater time and cost efficiencies.


  1. Improve patient feedback scores by making the patient experiences as seamless and stress-free as possible from the moment of entry into the healthcare environment.


  1. Help doctors, nurses and security personnel to be in the right place quickly.


Quite simply, getting lost in hospitals costs both the NHS and patients themselves.  Improving wayfinding with digital solutions is a highly cost-effective and simple way to make significant Trust-wide improvements to the patient journey.


To find out more about GenArate and to discover how Konica Minolta is supporting NHS Trusts on their digital transformation journey here



[1] Research quoted here: https://geomarketing.com/half-of-all-hospital-visitors-have-one-thing-in-common

[2] 2017/2018 data quoted here: https://www.england.nhs.uk/2018/10/nhs-to-trial-tech-to-cut-missed-appointments-and-save-up-to-20-million/

[3] Quoted here: https://www.theguardian.com/healthcare-network/2015/mar/05/lost-hospitals-costs-nhs-patients-navigation

[4] Research quoted in The Guardian - https://www.theguardian.com/healthcare-network/2015/mar/05/lost-hospitals-costs-nhs-patients-navigation