SmartNav: An Innovative Solution to Navigating Hospitals

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Patients often face a seemingly simple problem when they arrive at a hospital or clinic: navigation. SmartNav, an app-based solution, is designed to help patients with this issue.

“We want to help guide and assist patients so they can arrive at the proper destination at the right time in as stress-free a manner as possible,” says Barb McLaughlin, senior Vice President at Smart Source, one company collaborating on the SmartNav app. “We also want to help patients achieve a self-serve model for wayfinding that is reliable and helps them both navigate and understand healthcare.”

SmartNav is the result of a collaboration between three companies: Smart Source, Navizon and The Dots. The application was launched in Switzerland under the name Hospiway and is expected to arrive in the United States under the name SmartNav before the end of 2015. McLaughlin says both Hospiway and SmartNav will be deployed at the same time.

As a major stakeholder in the application and a leader in patient communication, Smart Source had already produced HandHolder, a product that helps patients get to the right place at the right time. But HandHolder comes in a paper form that is mailed to patients, and Smart Source wanted to contribute to a smarter solution.

Cue the idea for SmartNav, which will also help patients find where they parked their cars, view directions in languages other than English and press a “lost” button if they need assistance. Smart Source recruited Navizon and The Dots, which focus on GPS technology and programming, to help with the development of the idea.

The SmartNav app will show images of the hospital on a screen, as well as maps of the layout of the entire hospital. As patients navigate through hallways, they can match what they see on their phones to what is in front of them. While Smart Source believes the augmented reality of the app is the biggest differentiator from other navigation technology, they still face challenges that include meeting customer expectations for customizing and enhancing the application.

Right now, SmartNav is still in the design stage in the United States, with the application awaiting deployment. McLaughlin says the app will target outpatients, as well as hospital staff. She plans to target larger hospitals first because there is a greater need. “We hope to create visibility to enable the adoption of this app by hospitals across the United States,” says McLaughlin. SmartNav will also give each enrolled hospital a custom design for their space.

Soniya Shah

Soniya Shah

    Soniya Shah is an on-staff contributing writer at MedTech Boston. She's a senior at Carnegie Mellon University pursuing a BS in technical writing. She has experience as a ghost writer and medical writer, and in developing software documentation.

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