There’s nothing more frustrating than knowing where you need to go, but not how to get there.
Navigating Healthcare Campuses Provides Unique Challenges
Consider a sprawling hospital campus. The separate areas of expertise for doctors and staff mean that most will likely know their own areas quite well – but when they have to step outside their comfort zone, the rest of the campus can seem a mystifying maze. Shared staff members from other hospitals will waste time-- and money-- getting acclimated to a new environment before becoming productive, and staff rotating between departments may never gain that familiarity.
So it goes for patients as well. Whether visiting family during an already stressful time, or finding their way to personal appointments in far-flung wings of the campus, most people are forced to rely on outdated physical signs. Missed appointments result in the unacceptable delay of important care for the patient.
Lost Revenue, Higher Costs
Hospitals have long known that missed appointments cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue each year, and they’ve tried many ways over the years to prevent that loss. Reminder phone calls or emails the day before are only effective in getting patients to the hospital. Once there, however, the patient is at the mercy of signage or maps that tell, rather than actively show the way.
Signage itself carries its own costs as well. Physical signs need to be changed, and incur labor costs at installation. When done throughout a hospital with many wings and buildings, that cost can skyrocket into the hundreds of thousands of dollars – and will likely have to be redone every few years as hospitals expand and departments move.
Doctors and nurses have better things to do than give directions, and yet they spend thousands of hours per year doing just that. There is a better way – and it’s one that eliminates many of the costs and frustration that the healthcare industry has been dealing with for decades.
How Beacons Can Improve Navigation
Bluetooth beacons can provide real-time and accurate navigation information to both patients and hospital personnel. The use of proximity data means that the user’s device can be located within one meter, and consistent location feedback provided to them immediately.
The technology works much like Google Maps and other GPS software. Open the hospital’s app on your device, tell it where you want to go, and follow the specific directions. Apps can be customized for patients and staff, so that each see the most relevant information for their needs. The app can react to your movements, show photos of each navigation point, and even correct you if you’ve taken a wrong turn. Unlike static signage, it will be able to find the quickest and most direct route, share information about your destination, and can be updated easily with new information. Even renovation and construction can be planned for, by routing traffic around specific areas.
Accurate real-time navigation has the same time saving effects for hospital personnel. By reducing the time new staff, or shared staff take for acclimating to their environment, they are able to make impacts much more quickly, and without loss of labor hours or revenue. Doctors and nurses will have fewer enquiries for directions, allowing them to focus on their important work.
Reducing the Cost of Updates, Increasing Revenue
Before, if a hospital changed the name of a wing, or moved a department to a different building, hundreds – if not thousands – of signs had to be physically updated at great cost. Now, simple data entry can make instant updates that immediately filter out to all waypoints and users, which will reduce cost and downtime.
Patients can use the app to navigate directly to provider’s offices and testing facilities with no lost time or need for personal escort. Before arriving at the hospital, they can even use the app to learn how long to plan for their journey from car park to office, resulting in fewer missed appointments. Doctors will be more productive when their patients are in the right place at the right time, and avoid the need for rescheduling.
Further Technology Benefits
Mobile hospital assets can also benefit from the use of beacon tagging. Important items or testing devices can be located immediately when needed, saving wasted time in searches. Asset protection benefits from an enhanced opportunity for cost savings by preventing theft or loss of valuable items and diagnostic tools.
Hospitals around the world are already seeing tremendous benefits:
- Increased staff productivity
- Increased attendance rates for patient appointments, with increased revenue
- Increased collaboration between departments and buildings
- Elimination of the cost for updating physical signs
- Immediate updating of locations, names, and navigation
- Convenience in finding parking
- Lower wait times
- Reduced frustration for hospital staff, patients, and visitors
- Reduced cost for lost equipment and assets