Texas Children’s Hospital /

Creating clarity inside one of the largest hospital systems in the world’s largest medical center. The results were award-winning and cost-saving.

Research

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Contextual complexities

To understand wayfinding at Texas Children’s Hospital, one must first understand the macro, mid and micro complexities of the system. The city of Houston is relatively simple to navigate but the difficulty increases dramatically as you enter the Texas Medical Center. A dense network of hospitals, research institutions, parking structures, pedestrian bridges, and public transit make finding your destination difficult.

St. Luke’sBaylor Collegeof MedicineBestwesternPavilionfor WomenTexasWoman’s UniversityGarage 21Holcombe BlvdS. MainSouthgate BlvdAddison RdBaylorClinicHilton HoustonPlaza / MedicalCenterMainFanninBellowsClinicalCareCenterCNRCFeignCenterGarage 16Garage 9Garage 11BatesWestTowerAbercrombieGarage 12Garage 1Houston MethodistHospital - MainHouston MethodistHospital - ResearchLaundrySt. Luke’s EpiscopalHospitalTexasHeartInstituteGarage 2RJVJBerthner AveFanninUniversity of TexasMD AndersonCancer Center

Navigating this campus isn’t simply about a signage system, it’s about designing a system (TCH) within a system (TMC) within a city. A contextual solution was necessary for such a complex design problem.

19

Stakeholder interviews

4

Patient / caregiver visits

8

Staff shadowing

A patient’s experience is the overall result of specific moments in time. We identified these important moments, positive and negative, by shadowing users and asking questions. Sometimes the best ideas come from listening.

Ecosystem mapping

Mapping this complex system allowed researchers and hospital administration to visualize communication channels and identify missed opportunities for a better experience.

SPACEWhile on CampusWhile in CarAt Home or WorkTV / RADIO / MEDIAOTHERPEOPLEOTHERPEOPLEPRINTED COLLATERALMOBILE DEVICEDOCTOR / STAFF

Doctors

Physicians
Referrals
Nurses
Technicians
Other staff

Mobile device

Google Maps
TMC / TCH
Appointment email
MyChart
TMC / TCH app

Printed collateral

Welcome kits
Appointment sheet
Parking maps
Business cards
Building maps

Space (on campus)

Numbered entries
Building names
Landmarks
Information desks
Elevators

Space (in car)

Garage names
Pavement graphics
Smart chips
Car queue
Signage

Media

Radio sports
TV commercials
Past appointments
Advertisements
Other media

People (on campus)

Candle lighters
Guest services
Volunteers
Security
Staff

People (in car)

Traffic manager
Passengers
Officers
TCH staff
Valets

Findings

  • Current system of geometric shapes is confusing
  • Inspirational parts of campus are not fully utilized
  • Patients are disoriented
  • Maps are inconsistently messaged and improperly oriented
  • Signage for pedestrians and vehicles are out of scale
  • Color is not considered as a strategic element
  • Choices for wayfinding are either under- or overwhelming

Strategy

Reinforce location

We learned from our patient ridealongs there were several major communication gaps throughout the entire user journey – from home to their final destination.

Simplified maps

A primary issue for all guests was the relationship between parking structures and hospital buildings. It can be confusing to park under a Texas Children’s Hospital building and reach the lobby only to learn your destination is actually in a different building – blocks away. A sculptural mapping system that shows elevators, buildings, and parking structures makes it easy for users to find their way, even if their destination is in a different building.

A Wayfinding reinforcement
Wayfinding reinforcement

Opportunities

We recommended purpose-designed elevator buttons to reinforce the new wayfinding system. Color and iconography indicate current location and provide guidance toward potential destinations.

A Top Down
Typeface Top Down
B Bottom Up
Typeface Bottom Up

Type and cognition

The eye translates a word’s shape, usually defined by ascending and descending characters, into meaning. Therefore, distinguishable letterforms are key to legibility. Bold, condensed letterforms create a less recognizable shape.

A Existing
Existing Typeface
B Updated
Updated Typeface

Legibility and clarity

Our research suggests that bold, condensed fonts with tight letter spacing are harder to read, especially from a distance. We recommended a more legible version of the typeface for clarity and legibility.

Immediate needs

  • Train a Patient Experience Officer
  • Encourage and empower interdepartmental collaboration
  • Prioritize patient needs through space and process decision making
  • Establish graphic standards for all communications
  • Implement a comprehensive digital wayfinding system
  • Optimize Google Maps to ensure proper labeling and directions
  • Establish a feedback process for patients / staff
  • Equip employees with training and tools for wayfinding

Design

Tower E

Pavilion for Women

West Tower

Abercrombie

Feigin

Clinical Care Tower

Neutral - One

Neutral - Two

Color with purpose

The use of color on campus had become inconsistent over time, creating confusion for guests. We imagined new, system-wide color guidelines and created a phased rollout plan in cooperation with the TCH interiors group.

A Thin
B Medium
C Bold

Following in-depth research and testing, we specified an updated font family that’s more legible and, as a plus, harmonious with the existing signage system.

Texas Children’s Omni Map Detail

Texas Children’s Omni Map Detail

Missing link

A “global” map that shows users how to get from their current position to their final destination was a crucial but missing wayfinding tool. Our team synthesized complex garage, building, elevator, and pedestrian bridge data into a simple campus map.

Omni map – system

Omni map – system

Family of wayfinding signs

Family of wayfinding signs

Naming, typography, thematic graphics and color standards inform visitors of the building and level locations at all decision points, using multiple levels of reinforcement.

Texas Children’s Omni Map with Nurse

Texas Children’s Omni Map with Nurse

Texas Children’s Hospital Wayfinder

Texas Children’s Hospital Wayfinder

Results

An extensive research, strategy, and design effort provided valuable patient and organizational insights to executive leadership, aiding in future decision making. Our research was awarded an SEGD Global Design Award in 2016.

Footprint

  • 4.9 million sq. ft.

Services

  • Qualitative and quantitative research
  • Contextual analysis
  • Stakeholder interviews
  • Patient / caregiver ridealongs
  • Staff shadowing
  • User testing / focus groups
  • Findings documentation
  • Design recommendations

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