Principles of Successful Wayfinding in Healthcare Facilities

Understanding the intricate nature of medical facilities and the profound impact design has on these environments is fundamental to creating effective healthcare spaces. Kolar Design’s extensive experience in healthcare facility design is underpinned by a profound understanding of how these spaces are utilized and evolve.

In a recent thought leadership piece featured in Healthcare Design (tag), contributing editor Kristin D. Zeit (linkedin link) delineates three pivotal principles that underlie the success of healthcare facilities:

  • Early Planning for Wayfinding: 

  • A cornerstone of effective healthcare design is the early integration of comprehensive wayfinding solutions. Navigating a medical facility can be a daunting task for patients and visitors. Early planning for wayfinding ensures that spaces are intuitively organized, guiding individuals seamlessly through the facility.

  • Reducing Visual Clutter: 

  • Cluttered visual environments can add stress and confusion to patients and staff. Successful healthcare design calls for a reduction in visual clutter, creating spaces that are calming, clear, and conducive to healing.

  • Signage Strategies: 

  • The strategic use of signage is crucial in hospitals and clinics. Thoughtful signage strategies enhance patient and visitor experiences by providing clear and concise guidance.

The article presents invaluable insights from accomplished healthcare designers across various firms who share their common principles for developing effective wayfinding programs.

Among these experts is our very own Mary Dietrich, the Managing Director of Experiential Design at Kolar. Mary’s expertise in design systems and her collaborative approach to developing holistic branded interiors and strategic guidelines have benefited national and international clients, including prestigious institutions such as Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, UC Health, The VA, and many others.

Mary emphasizes the importance of creating simple hierarchies within healthcare spaces that guide individuals organically. “We’re all different. Some of us appreciate words, some of us remember color elements, and some appreciate other visuals. What we’re trying to do in wayfinding is trigger the mind.” – Mary D. 

This holistic approach to wayfinding and signage design extends beyond healthcare facilities, demonstrating the universal value of creating spaces that are intuitive, visually harmonious, and supportive of human well-being.


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