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Software developer LogicJunction helps hospital visitors find their way

on May 4, 2011

Software developer LogicJunction hopes its Wayfinder touch-screen kiosk makes getting lost at hospitals a thing of the past.

The Cleveland-area company’s interactive kiosks employ a talking avatar to help patients and visitors navigate the sometimes-confusing and sprawling layouts of hospitals, and feature maps and step-by-step instructions that can be printed or sent to phones via text message. (Another Cleveland-area company, Intelligent Mobile Support, provided the text-messaging functionality.)

“We’re basically doing a Google Maps for interior spaces,” said Ed Wagner, LogicJunction’s director of sales.

Three hospitals, including Cleveland Clinic and Lake Health in Northeast Ohio, have installed Wayfinders so far, but Wagner sees a potential U.S. market of about 2,500. That is, roughly half the nation’s 5,000 hospitals are large and complex enough that their visitors would benefit from navigation systems.

With more hospitals focusing on improving patient experience — and new technology becoming readily available — helping patients navigate layouts figures to become a higher priority for hospital administrators. And data suggests that hospital design and layout plays a key role in patient safety and satisfaction.

One study of a major tertiary care hospital calculated the annual cost of “wayfinding” at $220,000 — mainly due to the time spent direction-giving (more than 4,500 staff hours) by people other than information staff, according toa report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Cleveland Clinic’s use of LogicJunction’s Wayfinder is an example of its increased emphasis on patient experience.

“We are very focused on enhancing the patient experience and making our healthcare environment easy to navigate,” said Mary Curran, senior director of special projects at Cleveland Clinic. “We are continuously exploring new ways of improving this for our patients.”

(As a nonprofit, the Clinic can’t endorse products, so Curran declined to answer specific questions about LogicJunction’s Wayfinder, a spokeswoman said.)

Certainly, LogicJunction isn’t alone in seeking to help hospitals solve the wayfinding problem. Competitors in the interactive kiosk field include Four Winds Interactive, Navigo and Ready Ref. Navigo, in particular, boasts an impressive client list for its wayfinding software, with customers including Kaiser Permanente, Inova Heart & Vascular Institute and Mercy Hospital of Miami.

Nonetheless, with the wayfinding market still in relative infancy, early entrants like LogicJunction stand as good a chance of coming out on top as anyone.

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