designing a medical clinic

Top 5 Benefits of Designing a Medical Clinic With Efficient Wayfinding Solutions

Published on: November 5, 2019

More than perhaps any other corporate entity, the healthcare clinic thrives on efficiency. Cutting-edge facilities are constantly experimenting with new solutions to eliminate bottlenecks, increase timeliness of care, and improve the overall patient experience. While many clinics have introduced blended technologies to help ease patient check-in and external communication, facility navigation still remains a challenge for most major healthcare institutions. 

Unfortunately, some healthcare facilities have developed a reputation for being difficult to navigate. Buildings can be impossible to differentiate. Floors and their hallways often look exactly the same. And signs that are meant to be helpful sometimes end up bringing broad confusion. When patients travel to their first appointment at your clinic, you don’t want them to get lost somewhere along the way. That’s why wayfinding efficiency is a top priority when designing a medical clinic—and it comes with significant practice-improving benefits. 

5 Benefits of Effective Wayfinding Signage in the Healthcare Environment

With a well-designed wayfinding system in place, your healthcare facility becomes instantly more accessible to patients and more functional for medical staff. Here are a few other crucial benefits of high-quality wayfinding signage: 

1. Fewer late patient arrivals 

Along with no-shows, late patients present a constant and considerable challenge for medical clinics across the United States. While some percentage of individuals will be late for their appointments no matter what you do, it’s worth spending time to eliminate the large number of late arrivals that occur due to navigation difficulties. 

Effective wayfinding programs guide patients smoothly from their vehicles to your doorstep with fewer delays due to following current best practices on progressive disclosure and improved readability. With a successful wayfinding program in hand,  your clinic can get that much closer to achieving timeliness goals and providing higher quality care overall. 

2. Improved patient attitudes

No one likes to get lost—much less when they’re already feeling ill or nervous. It takes considerable executive functioning skills for a patient to arrive on time for an appointment at a new medical clinic. They often have to find the correct property entrance, park in a specific location, navigate to the correct building and then the correct department, and find their way to your office. Well-designed wayfinding signs provide help at every step of this journey. When guided by an optimally-functioning wayfinding program, patients arrive far less frustrated and overwhelmed by these logistics. 

The UCLA Medical Center in Westwood, CA experienced this phenomenon when updating their wayfinding signage program. Through an analysis of department functions and the names used to refer to them on existing signs, UCLA was encouraged to rename many departments with far more user-friendly terminology. The new names—and signs—were better understood by a wide majority of patients, leading to higher customer satisfaction scores and ultimately a more positive healthcare experience for their patient community. 

3. Innovations in daily workflow 

Successful wayfinding doesn’t just benefit patients and visitors to your property– it also benefits the staff who work there every single day. Healthcare workers spend an untold amount of time giving directions to visitors, which could be streamlined with the help of effective and innovative wayfinding solutions. 

Signage elements can also be designed with interactive elements that support daily workflows from a staff perspective. Digital signs can be utilized to convey information about current patient status and upcoming needs, and take far less time to update and maintain than traditional paperwork. An optimized wayfinding program can often be the innovative differentiating factor that improves daily workflows for clinic staff. 

4. Resolved operational inefficiencies

The best wayfinding consultants begin designing a medical clinic’s signage with a thorough process of interviews and focus groups with patients and staff. This often leads to valuable insights and feedback which can shed light on existing inefficiencies in a healthcare clinic. For instance, the process can help identify the confusion of having multiple imaging services spread throughout a facility or campus. 

designing a medical clinic

Through patient and staff interviews, Natividad Medical Center in Salinas, CA discovered a similar issue with outpatient registration. Directions were often diffuse and unclear, leaving patients waiting in lines only to be redirected to other departments for proper registration. As in many clinics, these issues had already been identified by staff and were already slated for future improvement. But their impact on wayfinding and patient experience served to build a stronger case and provide impetus for shorter-term operational solutions. With the guidance of an expert wayfinding design firm, the medical center was able to incorporate feedback into the signage master plan for widespread implementation to better meet patient and staff needs. 

5. Stronger branding touchpoints

Especially in cases of clinic rebranding or consolidation, building a consistent identity is a crucial goal for everyone who designs a medical clinic. Wayfinding signs are the primary touchpoints that convey your brand identity to visitors and staff every single day. They’re crucial opportunities to reiterate your brand messaging and influence higher patient satisfaction.

designing a medical clinic

The Maui Memorial Medical Center in Wailuku, HI leveraged this strategy to great effect after a corporate consolidation. They invested in a wayfinding program designed with graphics, color, materials, and cultural/ linguistic references that effectively tied the facility to the local community. The new signs featured icons representing local medicinal plants, colors reflecting Maui’s prominent natural features of water and jungle and materials mimicking the worn and frosted feel of sea glass. The messaging reflects local lingo with the words “E Komo Mai,” which mean “Welcome, come in, and make yourself at home.” This is just one example of how wayfinding signage can drive a brand message home and improve overall patient experience all in one go. 

Designing a Medical Clinic With Wayfinding in Mind

Medical facilities of all sizes have much to gain from setting effective wayfinding as a top priority. Yet, a newly designed signage program isn’t the only thing that can help clinics achieve their goals—the invaluable partnership between your facility and an excellent wayfinding consultant can reap even bigger rewards as the years go by. 

The best wayfinding design firms don’t stop working once implementation is complete. They’re on board to consult with you about future signage projects, to strategize for expansion or consolidation, and to aid you in any future rebranding efforts your clinic might undergo. They can help you create a set of sign standards that can be applied to create consistent branding throughout all of your potential properties. And they’ll be ready to help with any updates and maintenance needed to keep the signage program functional and effective for years to come. 

With an effective wayfinding program and a powerful partnership in hand, you’ll be prepared to reach optimal efficiency with your medical clinic design and any other properties you may acquire in the future. 

GNU Group is a wayfinding design and implementation firm with over 30 years of experience in the healthcare industry. Our unique approach to branded wayfinding has been used to help clinics transform into efficient, well-oiled centers for higher-quality healthcare. To learn more about how we can help with designing a medical clinic with optimal efficiency, connect with our team.