Overlook, which is part of five-hospital regional Atlantic Health System, devised its “Take Me There – Overlook” app after surveying patients and evaluating its physical plant, says Gerard Durney, Overlook’s director of operations.

“No one wants to be in the hospital. Patients are frightened and many times in pain, and their family and friends are concerned. If we don’t make it easier [for people to find their way around], anxiety can build,” he says. This anxiety affects not only patient satisfaction, but also patient outcomes and quality.

The indoor navigation system, known as “WayFinding,” involved several phases, including assessment and planning, map and data grooming, application building, positioning installation, testing and quality assurance. 

“It was a huge undertaking to do this. You have to determine where users will go, and then test the app repeatedly. If it’s not accurate, people won’t use, it,” Durney warns.

For instance, at Overlook people walk in from the lobby directly to the fourth floor, which can be very disorienting. So, the app needed to tell users that “you’re now on the fourth floor,” he says.

The app includes some advanced features, such as a parking planner that sends users to the best spot based on their appointment location at the hospital, and returns them to that same parking structure. The hospital is refining this feature further so that, by 2017, the app will return each user to the exact location of his or her car.

Overlook is still assessing how many visitors are using the app since it launched in late September, but it does know that about 6 percent of downloaders are using it daily, and doing so about 2.5 times a day, says Durney.

For people who don’t use mobile apps, the hospital also has kiosks throughout the facility that will provide directions.

Atlantic Health plans to next roll out the system at its hospital in Morristown.

“It all goes back to the patient experience. Patients don’t have to come to us,” says Gurney.