Have you ever started walking to a meeting or tried to give someone directions to an unfamiliar part of the Brigham, only to realize you weren’t entirely sure how to get there? Thanks to a group of in-house innovators at BWH, a new online wayfinding tool is helping patients, visitors and staff get to where they need to go around the main campus.
Accessed through a web browser on any internet-connected device, the wayfinding tool is designed to help users navigate the hospital several different ways. Available at maps.brighamandwomens.org, the web-based tool can provide directions to a location in the Brigham from an outside site, such as a person’s home address. To get from one place to another within the hospital, users receive step-by-step walking instructions alongside a map that illustrates their path.
The wayfinding tool’s robust directory includes far more than the locations of clinics and conference rooms. It can also help patients, visitors and staff find various services within and outside the hospital, such as the BWH Shop on the Pike or a nearby restaurant. In addition, the tool allows users to search locations by the name of the clinic, conference room, service line, patient floor and much more.
For about two years now, an interdisciplinary team at BWH has been working diligently to build and test the online navigation tool. Josie Elias, MBA, MPH, program manager for Digital Health Initiatives at the Brigham Digital Innovation Hub (iHub), who has led the project since its inception, said she’s proud of what the teams have accomplished and hopes people find the tool to be useful.
“We wanted to alleviate the stress of trying to locate a specific area in the hospital,” Elias said. “The Brigham is a very large institution and sometimes it can be difficult for people, including staff, to locate their destination.”
This tool is designed in a way that enables the team to easily modify and add locations if, for example, an office relocates or there’s demand to include locations not currently in the directory, Elias added.
Using wayfinding is simple and intuitive, said Cassandra Lee, a marketing specialist at iHub. A starting location can be entered manually – bringing up a list of options as you type – or, for internal locations, selected by browsing the directory. When starting from somewhere outside the main campus, the tool can also identify your current location using GPS.
Among the many BWHers who collaborated with iHub to design, build and test the tool was Andrew Shinn, a planner in BWH Real Estate and Facilities. Shinn has worked closely with Elias and the team to make sure the directions provided in wayfinding are up to date and match signage throughout the hospital. Shinn said it’s wonderful to see the technology come to fruition in the hospital setting.
“It’s exciting to produce a tool that will provide a better experience for our patients, visitors and staff,” Shinn said. “I’m looking forward to continuing to work with the group to discuss feedback and make sure the tool reflects what users want to see.”
As early adopters, Helen Thompson, manager of Patient Access Services, and Ashley Buckley, a supervisor in Patient Access Services, have worked with Elias and the team to develop and refine content and naming conventions in the web-based tool. Buckley and Thompson said they’re eager to share its capabilities with patients, visitors and staff.
Buckley said she’s enjoyed being involved in so many aspects of the project, from design to implementation. She’s looking forward to seeing the tool evolve over the coming months.
“I know this tool will have a positive impact on patients, families and staff,” Buckley said. “I’ve found that I use wayfinding so often now, especially when I’m running from one meeting to another. I know my colleagues are going to enjoy using it as well.”
Thompson agreed, adding that it’s an exciting time to be at the Brigham.
“The wayfinding tool is another example of how the Brigham is moving forward with technology that is designed to make life easier for our patients, their families and our colleagues,” Thompson said. “I’m grateful that Josie and the team have put so much thought into the design of this tool. It’s really something special.”
To submit feedback and questions about the wayfinding tool, email BWHWayfinding@partners.org.