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Augmented Reality Wayfinding for Hospitals: The Future of Healthcare

Helping patients, visitors, and hospital staff navigate hospitals with ease using augmented reality (AR) wayfinding

Hospital with a Guided Tour, Location Pin, and AR activations
Hospital with a guided tour, location pin, and AR activations.

Hospitals are designed to serve a diverse set of patients and needs, meaning there are a lot of route options for visitors to take. As a large-scale environment with complex transit and navigational systems, it’s no surprise that 30% of first-time visitors get confused and lost in hospitals.

This issue isn’t anything new, and it must be addressed as it risks a lower patient experience score and distracted staff directing visitors. By implementing technologies like augmented reality (AR), visitors and other parties alike can navigate hospital grounds with ease.

Continue reading below to discover the benefits of AR wayfinding for hospitals.

Improve the Patient Experience by Reducing Stress and Agitation

Hospitals are stressful for both patients and family members. Whether it’s a long stay or a brief appointment visit, it’s an uncomfortable and vulnerable environment. By assisting visitors to get where they need to be without one wrong turn, stress is kept to a minimum.

ARway app - following a guided tour populated with AR activations
ARway app - following a guided tour populated with AR activations.

A properly executed wayfinding system powered by AR ensures that users always know exactly where they need to go and how to get there, helping them to stay calm. An interactive, 3D map is a major improvement against an approximate 2D layout of a building. It reduces anxiety by allowing patients, visitors, and staff to choose any point in the map directory and follow an intuitive AR navigation path with step-by-step instructions to reach their destination. All they need is a cell phone with a camera. It’s immersive and reduces anxiety by allowing visitors to choose any point on the map for accurate directions. This easy to follow navigation can be accessed via a smartphone app where the wayfinding system will then overlay arrows onto the visitor’s camera display.

By empowering visitors to navigate around hospital facilities independently, staff are less likely to be distracted and asked for assistance. Studies have shown that if visitors do not have direction - or reassurance of their direction - every 30 feet while traveling through a facility, they will likely stop and ask an employee for directions. This leads to an astounding 40% of visitors and patients depending on hospital staff for wayfinding assistance. And although hospital staff are there to help patients, those few minutes providing directions add up quickly and make all the difference in an industry where minutes can mean a life saved. Interactive guides and preset evacuation routes are additional time savers, as staff won’t be relied on to decrease or redirect the flow of traffic to specific areas of the hospital during emergencies.

By keeping patient stress to a minimum and being on time, hospitals can expect happier customers and a decreased workload for their staff. Sticking to schedule leads hospitals to then reduce the costly impact of late and missed appointments, which cost hospitals an overwhelming $150 billion annually in the U.S.

Improve Spatial Awareness and Safety for Patients, Hospital Visitors and New Staff

An interactive wayfinding map can have even more incredible value added to it. Hospitals have the ability to insert contextually relevant information as visitors and staff move about. If new staff or a visitor needs to get to a specific wing, names can be displayed in AR as well as those of rooms and points of interest to inform and better guide them.

Hospital hallway with hotspot AR interaction and location pin navigation.
Hospital hallway with AR activations and location pin navigation.

In addition to preset evacuation routes, hospitals can provide instant notifications to safely guide patients to their destination from arrival to departure by displaying the latest policy and guides instantly on their screen in AR, eliminating wasted time searching for the most up-to-date hospital routes or rules and the possibility of a missed appointment.

These notifications can also extend to reminders, providing on-the-go health and safety reminders to visitors, patients, and staff, such as hand-washing procedures.

Lastly, gamifying the hospital experience with AR can be particularly helpful for distracting kids and reducing anxiety in places like waiting rooms. Gamification can range from AR object collection games (think Pokemon Go!) to interactive learning, such as science fun fact AR cards.

Enhanced, Simpler Hospital Facility Management

With more visitors using the wayfinding app, these data insights can be collected and leveraged to improve the overall hospital experience, operations, and safety. By understanding how hospital visitors occupy spaces, their most used routes, where they spend the most, and where they often get lost, facility managers can make meaningful improvements to the campus layout and improve navigational instructions as well as optimize energy use while even reducing operational costs.

Ready to create a patient-centric hospital experience? Visit to learn how to get started.

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