Digital indoor wayfinding app rolled out to NHS hospitals

A digital wayfinding solution used in Portuguese health institutions is being trialled at London’s Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.

The BuzzStreets indoor navigation app is also due to be rolled out at West Middlesex University Hospital, which is part of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

As well as providing directions to help patients navigate to locations inside a hospital, the solution supplies movement analytics. This can improve building efficiency and keep track of vital equipment such as wheelchairs and stretchers.

The app uses Bluetooth low energy beacons, Wi-Fi signals, and the Earth’s magnetic field to pinpoint a person’s location.

Features include a communication system for patients and doctors, and the option to schedule appointments, receiving medical scans and prescriptions, heat maps and appointment reminders.

BuzzStreets has been used at the Centro Hospitalare Universitário de Coimbra (CHUC), which manages five public hospitals in Portugal, since 2019 and at Portugal’s largest private healthcare group CUF, since 2002. It is also used at the Hospital Pulido Valente, in Lisbon.   

WHY IT MATTERS 

When attending hospital appointments, patients are often in a raised state of anxiety, potentially leading them to misjudge journey times and struggle with signage and on-wall maps. Missed appointments, arriving late, and staff being stopped by people asking for directions use up hospital resources.

Research by consultancy firm Deloitte Digital found more than 85% of patients ask for directions when they go to a hospital or other public health facility, and 30% of first-time visitors get lost.

The BuzzStreet app aims to save time and money by helping visitors get to appointments on time and staff spend less time giving directions.  

THE LARGER CONTEXT 

BuzzStreets says it is negotiating rollouts with a further 23 UK hospitals.

Several US hospitals have launched patient navigation systems, including the Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, and the Orlando VA Medical Center in Florida.

ON THE RECORD

Joe Fernandes, CEO of BuzzStreets said: “The BuzzStreets system brings outdoor navigation inside. 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.” 

Vanessa Sloane, deputy chief nurse at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The pilot project has already shown that the app reduces frustration for staff and visitors alike. 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.” 

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