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Guide to Indoor Outdoor Navigation Systems for Hospitals and Healthcare Institutions

Aug 17, 2021

9 min read

By: Sofia Spagnuolo

Indoor outdoor navigation systems can be used to create an enhanced, digitized hospital experience that benefits visitors and employees. Patients and guests can often find themselves lost within a hospital and rely on up-to-date maps to navigate through the complex venue. It is important that hospitals implement a contactless and safe solution for visitors to find their way through the building with as little frustration as possible. With indoor navigation systems, employees can focus on their core duties and improve productivity. At Mappedin, we have a created a guide to help you fully understand the indoor outdoor navigation process for the healthcare market.

Indoor Outdoor Navigation System for Hospitals and Healthcare Institutions 

What is an Indoor and Outdoor Navigation System?

An indoor and outdoor navigation system operates within a 3D digital map. This system allows users to get directions from point A to point B, whether that be inside the venue, or in surrounding areas such as the building’s parking garage. These 3D maps are created from PDF or CAD files of the venue blueprint. Pathing is added to the 3D digital map to create the most efficient and fastest routes throughout the venue.

Visitors can use the indoor and outdoor navigation system to define start and endpoints on the map and begin navigating in and around the venue. Users can obtain directions from the moment they park their cars outdoors, straight to a specific point of interest inside the venue. An indoor and outdoor navigation system can be used across any device, such as a smartphone, tablet, website, or directory, creating a consistent and seamless experience with wayfinding.  

What is Indoor Positioning?

Indoor positioning systems take indoor and outdoor navigation to the next level. Indoor positioning compliments indoor mapping, and the two work together to create an enhanced indoor and outdoor navigation system. Indoor navigation systems allow you to see your precise location on the map and obtain turn-by-turn directions to various points of interest. Indoor positioning technology detects real-time locations to determine the coordinates of people or assets. This real-time location is represented by a blue dot on the 3D map. This eliminates the need to add a “start” destination when requesting directions from a navigation system. Indoor positioning technology can go beyond directions and use real-time location finding to create unique experiences for users.  

Hospital and Healthcare Challenges

Healthcare venues are complex and consist of multiple wings, services, and departments. The complexity of healthcare venues has increased due to the growth in intensive and specialized care sizes, along with the lack of nurse staffing, which requires a more efficient use of resources. Hospitals are also in a constant state of flux, whether that be due to moving departments or expanding clinics. This can make navigating through a healthcare facility extremely difficult for those unfamiliar with the building and leave patients confused. Often, stress levels are high during a hospital visit and dealing with illness, and frustrating navigation can create even more anxiety. Beyond hospital visitors, patients often have difficulty locating appointments and sometimes need staff to guide them through the building, taking away valuable time from a hospital employee. 

Hospital and Healthcare Opportunities

A complex venue can benefit from integrating a location-aware 3D digital map to visualize the layout of the building. A digital hospital map can highlight amenities such as urgent care, bathrooms, information desks, cafeterias, specific wings and other important areas. A 3D map can also provide details on these certain locations, for example, hospital operating hours, or appointment booking information. Navigation systems can also help nurses plan the most efficient route around the hospital, creating a productive work environment as nurses can get to patients quicker for timely treatment.

Healthcare facilities can use indoor and outdoor navigation systems to reduce the amount of late arrivals or even no-shows from patients who find themselves lost in health care institutions. This can reduce the ongoing challenge of lost revenues from no-show appointments or delays while increasing customer satisfaction due to less waiting time per patient. A navigation app can also give the opportunity for staff to allocate more time to their jobs instead of providing directions and information to patients and visitors. 

Reasons to Use Indoor Positioning in the Healthcare Industry

The digital transformation of enterprises can make for a safe, efficient, and enhanced environment. According to MarketsandMarkets research: 

The indoor positioning market reached $6.92 billion in 2017 and is estimated to grow to $23.6 billion by 2023 at a CAGR of 27.9%. With indoor positioning systems on the rise, here are some reasons to implement indoor positioning in the healthcare industry.

Navigate from parking lots to indoors

A navigation system that operates from the moment you find a parking space right to your desired destination within the building ensures visitors can seamlessly navigate through the healthcare facility. Indoor and outdoor navigation systems can assist visitors by notifying them of the closest parking space in relation to their desired destination within the building. Positioning systems can also keep track of occupancy levels of parking lots to avoid aimlessly driving, searching for a spot, and wasting precious time. With these navigation systems in place, healthcare facilities can increase patient and visitor satisfaction when providing them with easy access to directions and important information about areas within the healthcare facility. 

Navigation for patients

Navigation in hospitals can be used to improve the patient experience and increase patient satisfaction. Some hospital patients should not be exerting unnecessary energy as they need to rest. This could be because of pain from an injury or dreariness from an illness. Wasting time searching for amenities such as a vending machine or food court can be detrimental and annoying to patients who are trying to heal. An indoor navigation app can provide directions based on patient location and provide alerts for patients, whether that be reminders of appointments or an emergency evacuation.

The patient experience can be enhanced when using indoor navigation systems by timing appointments properly, ensuring individuals arrive on time for treatments without getting lost or taking inefficient routes. Indoor and outdoor navigation systems can accommodate all patients through Accessibility Mode, which leads patients to a route that uses an elevator, rather than stairs, to accommodate multi-level wayfinding. Hospitals can also implement Digital Directory with voice commands to assist any patients who might have a visual impairment.

Medical staff tracking

Professional real-time indoor positioning solutions can ensure everything is running smoothly through medical staff tracking, increasing the efficiency of personnel. Medical centers can use real-time tracking to allocate staff where they are needed the most to ensure resources are laid out accordingly to cover all areas. Patients can benefit from medical staff hospital tracking by being able to ask the closest healthcare provider for help at any given time.

Medical equipment tracking and searching

Indoor positioning is a powerful tool that can be used to create a hospital asset tracking system that can track equipment in hospitals. Indoor positioning systems can notify healthcare workers where an item is located on the 3D map, limiting the cost of replacing lost equipment. Healthcare assets tracking can be used to keep track of hospital beds and other resources to ensure assets are properly spaced throughout the building.

Contact tracing

Indoor navigation systems can be used for contact tracing to keep everyone in the hospital safe while preventing the spread of illnesses. With COVID-19 still within our environment, contact tracing can be important when analyzing data on moments of infected people. Indoor navigation systems can track the length, proximity and time of each contact to ensure hospitals have all the information they need to take the correct protocols. 

Data analytics

Data analytics can drastically improve a hospital when analyzing patient flow and tracking the utilization of resources to promote efficient employees. Insights and analytics in hospitals can be used to manage overcrowded areas and ensure the most optimal pathing solutions are implemented. Data analytics can be useful when planning to add new services and amenities to the building, as hospitals can see which locations are the most ideal based on indoor positioning technology. Staff productivity can be assessed and improved, making it possible to manage a higher patient load. 

Real-time facilities management

It is essential that hospitals ensure resources are being allocated properly to keep people safe. It can be a challenge for management to keep track of all operations occurring in complex hospital buildings, but indoor positioning makes this process possible. Real-time facilities management within an indoor navigation system can use location-based tagging for maintenance issues and ensure facilities are running smoothly and accordingly at all times. This can improve facility safety with real-time location-based alerts to keep all hospital staff updated with information while keeping account for every visitor and staff member.

Facility management can account for emergency route planning in a hospital. Facility managers can use indoor navigation systems to plan the most direct route of evacuation in the event of an emergency and send location-based alerts to devices in the building instructing them to exit the building with step-by-step directions based on their exact location. Indoor navigation systems can ensure all visitors and healthcare teams are kept safe inside a hospital.  

How to Build an Indoor Map App for Hospitals

When creating an indoor map app for your hospital, it’s important to find a reliable indoor mapping software provider that has experience with creating indoor maps for complex venues. While some businesses may choose to build their own, the complexity of creating an indoor map can be daunting. Once you’ve decided on a provider, you will need to prepare the indoor location details to share with your vendor. For healthcare complexes, you will need to find the most up-to-date building blueprint or floor plans so that the provider can create an accurate map of your venue. With all the information in place, the 2D maps are rendered into digital 3D maps. You will also need to gather location data such as rooms, departments, public and private spaces, parking lots, eateries, and more.

With indoor mapping software such as a Map Editor, you can also customize the design and features of your map, such as logos and brand colours. Work with your provider to determine the solutions that are right for your hospital, whether a mobile wayfinding app, a web solution, Digital Directories, or a combination of platforms. 

Indoor outdoor navigation systems can lessen the stress and frustration present in hospitals. To start digitizing your hospital, contact us today.