Universal Design of an Innovative Wayfinding System Connecting over 10,000 Destinations: A Holistic Approach towards Patient Empowerment and Effective Communication for All Users on a University Hospital Campus

Four years ago, an enormous Wayfinding project was given the green light. Major challenges for this project were the over 13,000 locations, over 40 separate buildings and a huge variety of users.
We realised quite early that we needed to embed the project in the flow of the general clinical path for patients, giving an answer to all communication issues between the invitation letter and the arrival at the final destination in the hospital. Therefore an integration with several hospital information systems was necessary.
Moreover, we wanted the system to be safe, efficient, clear, and thus enable the user with disabilities to navigate independently. Therefore we chose an inclusive design reinforced with additional elements for people with reduced capabilities. This means that the solution neither excludes nor segregates potential users[1].
After studying various approaches and visiting systems in Europe, we designed an initial methodology connecting several communication systems to a robust base system. Then several patient participation organisations, etc. were asked to perform some clinical tests.
We implemented the adjusted design in the Rehabilitation Centre (patients with acquired brain disorders). The specific needs of these patients led to extra icons, such as ‘NEURO’, in addition to the generic numeric system.
In the Children’s Hospital children between the ages of seven and eleven were involved in the testing of the system (patient participation for children).
Another example of the inclusive approach is the design of a tactile board. The aim was to allow people with visual impairments to find every clinical entrance, starting from the public transport hubs. Using 3D printing technology we were able to adjust the design several times in collaboration with patients from the ‘Low Vision’ department.
Patient driven design felt for us engineers uncomfortable at the start, but the results we achieved are promising for future projects