People Interact

Blog about people-centered design by Lisa Chow and Sandra Sajonas.

Finding Your Way Around Hospitals

Hospital DesignA recent Wall Street Journal article A Cure for Hospital Design discussed the confusing design and layout of hospitals. Hospitals are realizing that patients and their visitors are having trouble navigating through the hospital and getting lost. Many hospitals are using various strategies and processes to improve hospital design including wayfinding. Wayfinding is about the ways in which people orient themselves in a space and navigate from one place to another.

The article pointed out that “confusing layouts can result from years of hospital renovations and building additions”. This happens in many organizations, including libraries. Many decisions regarding building additions or changes are made without holistically looking and considering the entire physical space.

Strategies and changes include:

  • Using plain language instead of technical terms.
  • Using universal symbols.
  • Placing prominent landmarks to assure people that they’re heading in the right direction.

We’re glad to see that some hospitals are realizing the importance of hospital design and starting to use strategies and processes to improve it. As a patient or family/friend of a patient, there’s already enough anxiety — let’s not make it worse by having confusing hospital layouts and signage.


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