Gartner's predictions on Wayfinding in Healthcare 2019

By 2019, 25% of HDOs will use experiential way-finding to enhance the patient experience and competitive differentiation
— Barry Runyon, Research VP at Gartner

Key Findings

Way-finding is no longer a nice-to-have. It is critical to a superior end-to-end consumer and patient experience.

New way-finding technologies should be used to sense, collect and analyze event information to guide patients from their home through the entire continuum of care.

Way-finding has evolved to encompass an ecosystem of technologies that mesh in a way that assists a consumer or patient to conveniently locate and navigate your space and optimize its use.

This ecosystem includes technologies such as indoor GPS and mapping, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacon technology, mapping apps (e.g., Google Maps), location and condition sensing technologies and platforms, IoT aggregation platforms, contextual messaging, parking management systems, digital signage, and self-service kiosks.

Patient experience innovation is increasingly, though not exclusively, dependent on mobile devices being in place for consumers and clinicians.

Experiential way-finding is an important component of the real-time healthcare system.

Market Implications:

In its most simple incarnation, way-finding is about helping a person to get from one place to another in the most efficient manner. It is a spatial problem-solving technology used to provide information on where one is located, where they are headed, and instructions or assistance on how to get there from their current location. In retail, it is fast becoming a digital engagement strategy but not so much the case within the HDO.

Experiential way-finding over time goes beyond the early, simple examples and beyond the physical footprint of the HDO. In the short term, it seeks to ensure a convenient end-to-end experience or journey for the patient or prospective patient — from the home to a parking spot near the care venue, to registration or admissions to their scheduled appointment within a facility or campus — and of course — back home again or to another facility.

Navigating the hospital or medical center campus should be at least as easy and convenient as finding your way around a shopping mall. In an "experience" economy, implementing a way-finding solution is fundamental to creating memorable and positive consumer and patient experiences. These experiences influence patient satisfaction, influence positive and negative perceptions of the HDO, create a more efficient and productive work environment, and create new revenue opportunities. Way-finding success could mean the difference between attracting and retaining, or not attracting patients.

Situational awareness is at the heart of the real-time healthcare system (see Note 1) and is the engine behind various "hospital of the future," "digital hospital" and so-called "smart patient room" initiatives. In practice, situational awareness is about knowing where people (for example, patients, clinicians and care team members) and resources (for example, medical devices, wheelchairs and surgical equipment) are at any point in time, and in some cases their state, within the context of patient care.

Situational awareness involves sensing, collecting, analyzing and using patient activity and event data — in other words situational intelligence — to improve HDO operations and the delivery of care, making it more convenient to access and receive. The notion of situational awareness needs to be extended to include preadmission and post discharge consumer and patient activity. An HDO can be considered a real-time healthcare system to the extent that it has mastered situational awareness — it is key to operational efficiency, care quality and a superior patient experience.


Use experiential way-finding to:

  • Reduce the complication and confusion of your space
  • Understand where consumers and patients are going and what they are looking for
  • Streamline access to common HDO destinations
  • Reduce wait times and associated frustrations
  • Reduce staff interruptions
  • Get people to their appointments on time
  • Reduce consumer and patient stress and anxiety
  • Balance demand and capacity
  • Improve customer satisfaction and the patient experience
  • Differentiate yourself from your competitors
  • Augment the use of self-service kiosks


by: Barry Runyon, Research VP at Gartner