Since its founding in 2006, FORMATION has taken a special interest in designing and consulting for healthcare. We continue to be drawn towards this work because it allows us to make a direct positive impact on people’s lives at both an individual and institutional scale.
We take a holistic approach to patient experience, using contextual research to look deeply at the intersections between user journeys, systems, and the built environment in order to design solutions that are both expressive and resourceful. fig. a, fig. b
This integrative, research-based approach allows us to deliver improved experience and cost savings simultaneously by breaking down departmental silos to identify shared needs.
Our work has helped institutions recapture Medicare/Medicaid reimbursements through the improvement of HCAHPS scores related to wayfinding, unit quietness, and overall quality of experience.
We contextualize HCAHPS data with qualitative contextual sense data gleaned from in-person interviews and shadows with patients and staff fig. c in order to understand how patient experience at a particular hospital—and in some cases, in a particular patient unit—can be improved both within and beyond the framework of HCAHPS.
In many cases, we have uncovered correlations between low-performing HCAHPS measures and seemingly unrelated conditions that can be improved by strategic design interventions. fig. d
One of the most significant ways we can intervene in the built environment to improve patient experience is through wayfinding. Hospitals are innately stressful for patients and their loved ones. Stress causes any confusion posed by inadequate wayfinding to be magnified—likewise, feeling lost and unsure of how to proceed can increase a patient’s stress. fig. e
More than just signage, a successful wayfinding system in a complex environment like a hospital campus encompasses all of the multi-sensory signals a space sends to its occupants. These cues, when deployed thoughtfully and systematically, can help occupants navigate intuitively and distinguish between public spaces and off-limits staff-facing areas.
Hospitals are used by many groups at the same time; each of these user groups has different information needs and a successful wayfinding system will respond to each group in kind. We work directly with patients, family members, caregivers, and support staff to understand how they use the space, what they tend to call things, and where they lose their way.
While large-scale healthcare environments often face similar wayfinding challenges (confusing nomenclature, a lack of imageable landmarks among monotonous corridors, little distinction between staff-facing and public-facing areas, to name a few), what users tell us about how they navigate a flawed existing condition helps us determine the appropriate wayfinding framework(s) for a particular campus. fig. f
We believe that a successful wayfinding solution allows a space to become seamlessly legible to its occupants: good wayfinding is so intuitive as to become almost invisible.
We find that hospital campuses almost always grow without a master plan, morphing over the course of decades with many generations of buildings coexisting on the same campus. There is often a sense that the next new building will solve problems created by existing—often aging—infrastructure. In our experience, new construction only tends to shine a brighter light on entrenched problems caused by a lack of campus-wide growth planning.
We work with hospitals to develop holistic master plans for phased renovation and future growth that save money and improve patient experience by anticipating future changes and unifying old and new construction both visually and systematically. fig. g
CHR1701 CHRISTUS HEALTH
Research assessment and strategic recommendations to improve wayfinding and patient experience at large-scale hospital campuses throughout CHRISTUS Health's Northeast Texas region.
NCH1601 NATIONWIDE CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL
Wayfinding system for the nation’s second-largest children’s hospital that unites a
diversity of buildings while creating a humanizing experience for patients and families.
NIC1501 NICKLAUS CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL WAYFINDING SYSTEM
Wayfinding system for a sprawling—and aging—hospital campus in Miami, Florida.
TCH1501 TEXAS CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL
Research assessment and strategic recommendations to improve patient experience and recapture Medicare & Medicaid reimbursements related to wayfinding.
ELC1901 EL CENTRO
Identity rebrand for a system of Federally Qualified Health Centers providing services to immigrant communities in Houston’s East End.
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