Hey, There’s An App for That!
One of the neatest things about covering the latest technology in buildings is witnessing how innovative folks are taking existing technology and figuring out how to apply it in a hospital setting.
Take an Atlanta-based healthcare wayfinding solution company, for example. One day a couple of the higher ups were pondering the fact that sites like Google Maps and MapQuest do a good job of navigating people through city streets, but there are no such tools for guiding people within a facility, particularly a hospital, which can often be a challenge for patients and visitors.
Realizing that smart phone technology could easily be applied to create such a product, the company recently released their first wayfinding app for Thompson Health hospital in Canandaigua, New York, about 30 miles southeast of Rochester.
As presented in this YouTube video, the app can be downloaded from the hospital’s website or via touchscreen kiosks in the lobby, at which point the hospital’s major destinations are stored on one’s phone. By clicking on any of these points, an individual can either receive directions, or be guided by a GPS to the hospital’s correct entrance. Once inside the doors, an animated map guides patrons all the way to the office or department of destination.
Developers are already working on a second-generation product that could track exactly where someone is within a facility—essentially an indoor GPS tool—although it will require a public WiFi system throughout the entire building, which is not commonplace in hospitals at this time.
A similar initiative by another Atlanta signage company involves applying quick response codes to maps, which the company claims is the quickest and most cost-effective way to deliver targeted wayfinding information to smart devices. After scanning these codes off of signs inside or outside of a healthcare facility, visitors are then shown either a general map or a map with a route right on their phones.
Such an application has been designed for the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, where visitors can scan a QR code off an exterior sign onto their smart device, at which point a map of the health clinics pops up.
The company anticipates applying the technology to parking area identification, interior and exterior pedestrian wayfinding and “You are here” floor and campus maps.
Incidentally, Google Maps also recently introduced the ability to add a floor plan to one’s facility, as explained in this tutorial.
In any case, such apps are definitely an exciting advance in the world of healthcare wayfinding, and will most likely start catching on in the industry.