Endless corridors that seem to lead nowhere. Poorly marked entrances. Multiple elevator banks and incomprehensible signs.
Hospitals are realizing they have a design problem as patients and visitors struggle to navigate the maze of the modern medical complex. Confusing layouts and signage add to patients' anxiety at a time when many are feeling ill and are coming to the hospital to undergo tests and procedures.
Now, many hospitals are borrowing strategies from shopping malls and airports to make it easier for people to get around—a process design experts call wayfinding. Technical names for departments, such as Otolaryngology, are being replaced on signs with plain language—Ear, Nose and Throat.