12 Tips to Improve Wayfinding Signage at Your Healthcare Facility

February 5, 2014


12 Tips to Improve Wayfinding Signage at Your Healthcare Facility

When was the last time you got lost in your own healthcare facility?

If you can honestly say “Never,” either you’re doing a great job of maintaining and updating your facility’s wayfinding signage systems or suffering from selective memory syndrome.

Many healthcare facilities fall into a middle ground between easy-to-find and needing-a-GPS building layouts. This is an uncomfortable place to be considering Medicare reimbursement payments are now being tied to HCAHPS patient satisfaction scores.

The good news: It’s pretty simple to improve wayfinding signage at your healthcare facility by following these simple, common sense tips.

  1. As you’re walking around, pay attention to visitors who don’t seem to know where they’re going. Is your facility’s wayfinding signage helping or confusing them?
  2. Signage must be consistent in shape, size, symbols and wording. No surprises are allowed.
  3. As you’re tweaking your facility’s energy efficiency ROI, consider the cost savings LED (light-emitting diode) that exit signs provide.
  4. Use distinctive, color-coded signage consistently on each floor to ease navigation throughout your healthcare facility.
  5. Does your facility cater to diverse audiences who speak different languages? Designing signs that use combinations of universal symbols and languages other than English will be necessary.
  6. Departments in healthcare facilities should be named in ways that provide crystal clarity to anyone needing to find them. For example, can visitors find the cafeteria in your facility without asking anyone for help first?
  7. Do you have a line item in your building budget to replace out-of-date or broken signage? What’s worse than no signs: The wrong signs!
  8. Have you cluttered areas with too many signs? In these cases, too many signs indicate a failure to communicate clearly with visitors.
  9. Signs should be placed strategically so that wayfinding cues are linked intuitively to the environment and architecture of the healthcare facility.
  10. Stay away from putting up temporary, computer-generated signs, no matter how much you’re tempted to do a quick fix. In these areas, rethinking your signage strategy will be necessary.
  11. Does your wayfinding signage take Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations into account?
  12. Because patients often visit your facility online before going there, ensure your website includes detailed maps mirroring the same information as your online signage that can be downloaded as PDFs.

Once you’ve perfected your master wayfinding strategy, experts suggest forming a first impressions team that critiques facility signage regularly to maintain high HCAHPS scores and ensure visitors don’t get lost.

For more help with wayfinding signage at your healthcare facility, contact Vanguard Resources.