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What makes wayfinding so important to a hospital’s bottom line?

The estimated costs for living with a poor and ineffective wayfinding program in a midsized facility of 350 - 400 inpatient beds, and approximately 600,000 square feet of interior space, ranges from $150,000 - $200,000 annually, (Zimring 1990). Adjusted for inflation, that number would be slightly over $400,000 today.

These estimates are based upon loss of revenue for reallocation of time and the support necessary to shore up an inadequate wayfinding system.

What goes into calculating the cost of poor wayfinding?

  • When your wayfinding program is inadequate, your staff and employees become the backup. This persistent distraction could potentially interfere with the level of focus and concentration of your staff. In a healthcare environment, the consequences of that level of distraction can contribute to an increase in medical errors.

  • Patient scheduling and hospital wait times are a frequent source of added anxiety and frustration for patients, as well as department and practice managers, not to mention lost revenue. A successful and functional wayfinding program will improve wait times, and patient satisfaction, by reducing the number of missed and late appointments.

  • A comprehensive wayfinding program identifies public, regulated, and restricted areas of your facility. When patients become lost, there is a greater probability they may inadvertently wander into restricted areas of the facility. In some cases, this can expose the public and your patients to a greater safety risk. A well-coordinated wayfinding system can help reduce costs associated with increased security staff to monitor and control these areas of your hospital facility.

  • While volunteer greeters are not paid, there are administrative and training costs associated, and budgets may be difficult to justify. Volunteers may not be as familiar with all areas of your campus and may not offer the best solution for assisting with wayfinding.

  • A paid concierge staff may help to differentiate your healthcare system from your competitors, but the cost for providing this amenity is usually a luxury, and beyond the reach of many healthcare providers.

  • In today’s multi-disciplinary healthcare environment, attending physicians that do not visit your hospital frequently, employees and administrators from other facilities in your network, and new employees and staff, often require orientation to help them become familiar with and easily navigate the hospital. Everyone would benefit from a functional wayfinding system. When less time is required to learn the facility, more time can be focused on specific job responsibilities.

Each item above impacts a hospital’s bottom line based upon loss of revenue due to the reallocation of resources and support necessary to shore up an inadequate wayfinding system. When you consider the additional negative perception created in the minds of your patients and visitors and potential impact on HCAHPS scores the impact is much greater. Based on the costs outlined above, wayfinding contributes significantly to your bottom line. The only thing that makes it worse, is to delay addressing potential wayfinding problems.

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