Navigating the clinical labyrinth of Australia’s hospitals will become easier for patients and visitors thanks to a new generation of smartphone apps.
Using cutting-edge indoor navigation technology patients and visitors can now access turn-by-turn directions around the hospital and receive visiting hour alerts, directions to waiting rooms, gift shops and other facilities.
Digital mapping specialist MapData Services (MDS) is driving the best-of-breed technology behind the apps which is similar to that found in car navigation tools.
MDS General Manager Cassandra Barker said the smartphone apps could help relieve some of the stress patients feel when confronted by the maze of buildings, wards and corridors at a typical hospital.
“Hospitals can be unnerving places, but with these apps patients and visitors can be guided to exactly where they need to go,” Ms Barker said.
“Patients can be sent a link with their admission papers which enables them to opt-in to download the app and access secure information they need for their visit.
“If the patient has activated the app, the hospital is notified when they arrive and pass through a virtual gate, known as a ‘geo-fence’.
“The app pinpoints the location of the patient and they can then be guided immediately with step-by-step directions to the admissions desk and subsequent hospital departments.”
Concerned family members and friends can also use the apps to locate the nearest car park and hospital entrance for the fastest route to their loved one’s bedside.
“The highly intuitive technology can incorporate points of interest such as buildings, landmarks, cafes, shops and pharmacies for a unique, personalised experience,” Ms Barker said.
“The technology behind the apps was extremely flexible, allowing users to choose what information they shared with the hospital.”
Tailored for each hospital, the apps enable hospital directors, administrators and staff to gain compelling insights into visitor behaviour through analysis of how the facilities are being used.
“Understanding the way visitors move around and interact within the hospital precinct is vital to ensuring the right staff and facilities are positioned where they are most needed,” Ms Barker said.
“Importantly, while the apps are capable of measuring visitor movements, they do so by preserving the anonymity of the users.
“The apps can evolve as the needs of the hospital change and can also highlight important features such as emergency procedures and exits.”
Apps utilising indoor navigation technology are already in use at hospitals, airports, shopping centres, universities and other organisations with large physical footprints to engage more strategically with clients.
“While a new technology in Australia, it’s becoming a blueprint in how healthcare providers are refining the delivery of services to ensure patient care and experience are equally vital,” Ms Barker said.