Wayfinding Software as a Weapon for Hospitals

March 17, 2020

Davis Johnson

COVID-19, Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic is a wakeup call for the importance of patient routing, and logistics. How did we get here? How do we slow it down? How can we be best prepared for the next virus? While there is no silver bullet, the best advice is to deploy multiple upstream strategic initiatives. Consider the following, typical hospital journey of John.
John has symptoms of COVID-19 and the symptoms have gotten severe enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room. John doesn’t visit his local hospital frequently and pulls up directions via Google Maps. Unfortunately, Google Maps doesn’t know about the inside of the hospital buildings on campus, nor does it understand the ultimate goal of John’s trip. Google Maps directs John to a parking garage on the east side of the hospital campus instead of the west parking garage, which is next to the emergency room.

John goes through the east entrance, sets his phone on the reception counter, and asks the receptionist how to get to the emergency room. The receptionist responds by giving John verbal directions. The directions are lengthy, so the receptionist suggests either giving John written directions, or that John go back to his car and park in the correct parking garage. John doesn’t want to go back to his car, so he asks the receptionist to write them down on a hand-out map. After receiving the receptionists paper directions, John starts walking to the other side of the hospital to get to the ER.

While the receptionist’s directions were accurate, the map lacked a lot of detail, so John asks a nurse along the way, and hands her the paper map he was given. The nurse confirms he is on the right path and he continues to the emergency room.

John is almost to his destination, but there is construction and the path he was taking isn’t accessible. He sees signs that point in several directions, none of which include the ER. John will continue to talk to staff members as he touches the rails throughout the building. John stops in one of the restrooms on his way, before arriving at the ER.

If John had COVID-19, he would have potentially spread the virus to every person he came into contact with along his journey to the ER. And, since the virus stays for long periods of time on materials, others who visit any area that John visited could come into contact with the virus.

With Cartogram, patients are routed from their homes to the correct parking lot, through the right entrance, and ultimately to the location of their appointment inside of the building. Likewise, patients visiting the hospital for non-COVID-19 related reasons can be routed to avoid the pathogenic areas of the hospital.