Providers Map Out Strategies to Optimize Digital Navigation

As visitors to any hospital can attest, navigation is no easy feat. Finding the right room, let alone the right department, is stressful — even more so when the health of a friend or loved one looms large.


In November, Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston also rolled out a mobile wayfinding tool after a year and a half comparing solutions and studying infrastructure challenges, and several more months conducting beta testing.

The preparation also included the development and deployment of a mobile-responsive website that offers directions to locations in the hospital from anywhere else on the campus, or from a person’s home address. Once inside the hospital, users are sent access to step-by-step walking instructions and a map. Visitors then are able to search for desired locations by the name of the clinic, service line or patient floor.

“We spent all of that time looking at the state of technology and thinking about what is really ready from a solutions standpoint,” says Josie Elias, program manager for digital health innovation at the Brigham Digital Innovation Hub (iHub).

With the analytics and learning gleaned from that effort, the iHub team built out a native mobile app for iOS and Android.

“We wanted to stand something up and allow ourselves the flexibility to continue growing and address the fact that some types of patients and visitors will gravitate toward one technology versus another,” Elias says.

The solution takes advantage of Wi-Fi, geomagnetic positioning and beacons to continuously guide users with minimal service interruption. And to make the app even more practical for users, Brigham and Women’s staff worked to ensure that when patients receive text reminders about their upcoming appointments or procedures, embedded in that reminder will be a link to the app that provides customizable directions.

“That feature has correlated with increased use of more than 1,000 percent,” Elias says. “The patients love it, and it made a noticeable difference in their experience.”

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