A unique new indoor wayfinding solution has been launched at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, enabling patients and visitors to navigate more easily and helping to reduce pressure on staff.
BuzzStreets has worked with Chelsea & Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust on the new app, which is part of the CW Innovation programme, a joint initiative between the trust and its charity, CW+, - to test and scale innovations and digital systems that improve patient care and the patient experience.
It comes as research from Deloitte Digital revealed that 87% of patients ask for directions when they go to a hospital or other public health facility,, and 30% of first-time visitors get lost.
After a successful trial, the new system will enable visitors to the London hospital to navigate their way from outside all the way to the specific location they need, whether that’s a bed on a ward, a consulting room, the café, or the pharmacy.
Overall, we’ve seen that the app helps save resources, improve patient outcomes, and enhances the entire hospital experience for patients and their families
And the app includes points of interest such as offices, cafeterias and, uniquely, more information about the trust’s collection of over 2,000 works of art and digital installations that transform the hospital environment for patients, families, volunteers, and staff.
It uses a system of BLE Beacons, Wi-Fi signals, and the Earth’s magnetic field to pinpoint the person’s location, giving them real-time directions, both spoken and visual, to allow them to navigate through the hospital, both horizontally and vertically.
When the person first arrives at the hospital, they open the app and key in the location they want. The app then calculates a route from their current location to the point in the hospital they need.
It shows a map of the hospital and their route is clearly marked. Just like traditional car sat-nav systems they then press ‘start’ and the app visually shows them where to head and audibly advises them.
As they progress along the route the app constantly updates, showing them where they are and giving them regular voice and visual updates to show them where and when to turn, go straight on, or change floors. It will also let the person know when they have arrived at their destination.
However, unlike car sat-nav the system is accurate to 1-2m as the ‘sensors’ are within the hospital, not 12,000 miles away in space.
“The pilot project has already shown that the app reduces frustration for staff and visitors alike,” said Vanessa Sloane, deputy chief nurse at the trust.
“It helps reduce the anxiety of patients and visitors trying to find their way in the hospital, which previously required contact with multiple different staff.
“Overall, we’ve seen that the app helps save resources, improve patient outcomes, and enhances the entire hospital experience for patients and their families.”
We’ve developed the app to tackle the common problems relating to visitors getting lost and staff spending time giving directions to save the NHS both time and money
The app also allows Personalised Navigation Services, for example allowing people with disabilities to receive navigation instructions that suit their needs. This may mean directing them to lifts rather than staircases, for example.
“The BuzzStreets system brings outdoor navigation inside,” said Joe Fernandez, chief executive of BuzzStreets.
“And, as one of London’s biggest and busiest hospitals, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital has been the perfect pilot location.
“It’s a complex building, with over 6,000 visitors every day – all with different needs, at different times, with different end locations.
“We’ve developed the app to tackle the common problems relating to visitors getting lost and staff spending time giving directions to save the NHS both time and money.”