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Half Of All Hospital Visitors Have One Thing In Common: They’re Lost

Connexient's Geoff Halstead says that indoor navigation can significantly reduce late appointments and raise patient satisfaction.

Roughly 40-to-50 percent of people visiting a large healthcare facility say they have trouble getting to where they have to be. And that results in missed appointments, longer wait times, and patient and visitor dissatisfaction.

As medical centers, like any other entity, become increasingly pressed to rein in costs, indoor navigation platform Connexient has been putting particular focus on hospitals with its MediNav system, which mixes GPS and beacons to take the mystery out of the outdoor and indoor divide.

The New York-based company has been working with Google to complete the connection between outdoor and indoor wayfinding for hospitals and medical facilities to get patients and their visitors in and out more efficiently and pleasantly. As Chief Product Officer Geoff Halstead  noted last week during a presentation at Google’s offices, the company can even help hold a parking spot on a medical campus.

GeoMarketing: How did Connexient start tackle the problem?

Geoff Halstead: Yes, that’s kind of in our DNA. The founders originally built a wayfinding architecture signage business for about 200 hospitals in the northeast. After one of the founders had been doing this for 20 years and the other founder had been doing it for eight years, they started thinking, “You know, digital is the next frontier.”

So they realized after working with kiosks and digital signage, the problem is that the minute a person walks away, they leave that information behind. So they go up an elevator, for example, and get off and find that they’re lost again.

So from there, the set about translating the ability to arrive and be greeted with a beautiful outdoor navigation experience and said, “Why can’t we do that for indoors?” That’s the founding vision of the company: Let’s do indoor GPS. Let’s do blue dot indoor navigation for these facilities.

What powers the indoor navigation? Beacons? Wifi?

The key, breakthrough technology was Bluetooth low-energy beacons. What we do is a little bit different than beacons.

We’re using handset sensor fusion so that we’re looking at multiple beacon locations. It’s process similar to triangulation. Now along with other readings, such as the magnetic signature of the building, the wifi fingerprint, as well as knowledge of the map, you’re heading, all of those things allow us to create a very smooth, accurate navigation experience.

What’s the user experience like when they encounter Connexient’s indoor navigation? Is it app-based?

We’re actually “all-screen,” so we have the web and apps. Like Google Maps, I can plan it, I can see where I’m going, I can maybe print directions if I want. Then you have the mobile app. We made a mobile app, which is for navigation.

And we use Google Maps, so we actually got the ability to deeplink and send you to the exact parking location when you enter an area. Once you arrive, we can actually detect you’ve arrived. Then, with the beacons, we can serve that indoor map, continue your navigation through the garage and save your parking spot for you.

How does Connexient save me a parking spot?

You can plan your parking space before you even get to the place. Our parking planner is all about being able to tell you where you should park based on your indoor location. Then we actually get you to that exact entrance via Google Maps. Now, Google doesn’t know that exact entrance of a place, but we do. We put you in an indoor map, and with blue dot navigation, save your parking spot indoors, and navigate you all the way to your appointment. Then, five hours later, you want to get back to your car. We know where it is too, and we can get you back there.

How many hospitals does Connexient work with?

We started off with about five and we’ve just signed our 20th hospital. Each hospital is really a healthcare network, so right now we’re just doing one campus. Ultimately, all of them are intending to put this network-wide, so it’ll become a built in multiplier to our business over the next year.

What is driving hospitals to adopt indoor digital navigation right now?

At the high level, our founding vision was the concept that someday soon, it will just become obvious that anybody walking into the building would say, “Where is my indoor GPS?”

And hospitals want to achieve higher patient and visitor satisfaction, they want to cut down on wait times. Plus, as mobile mapping for outdoors and indoors becomes more commonplace, it’s natural that medical facilities would want to embrace that technology. All it takes is for one place to do it, find it successful, and others become ready to do it as well.

So yes, patient experience and HCAHPS Hospital Survey (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) scores count for a lot.

Wayfinding is a big part of patient experience. In terms of dealing with late and missed appointments, every hospital knows that’s a chief cause of dissatisfaction and cost inefficiency.

What affect can Connexient have on those issues?

What we can help do is move the needle and reduce late or missed appointments by 10 percent — that’s a huge number for a hospital. Then there’s the whole issue of efficiency where, what is the wayfinding solution today? It’s whoever is in the white coat that patient walks by. And stopping a neurosurgeon or a nurse to ask for directions dozens of times a day is a very expensive wayfinding solution.

Do you plan to only work with hospitals?

That’s our original DNA and background. And that’s where this pain point of wayfinding and indoor navigation is powerful enough to really drive early adoption.

The advantage of working with healthcare facilities comes down to having a300 square foot office building, 500,000 square foot hospital. So it’s much more of an office complex. Aside from healthcare facilities, government is a big, next vertical for us to tackle.

A lot of our early clients are academic and medical centers. We’re already talking to several about the university campus.

There are quite a few companies who are doing it and malls and airports and places like that. The wayfinding issue in those places is a little less difficult and it’s more focused on merchandising and where do I get something to eat. So we don’t see a need to jump into those areas, when there’s so much to do when it comes to hospitals, government buildings, and university campuses.

What does Connexient’s product roadmap look like?

One key thing on our road map is next year is a “friend-finder” — the ability not to see just where you are, but where other people are. That opens up so many other options and opportunities.

Secondly, we want to look at the idea that once you deployed navigation quality maps and navigation into a big facility, who else can use it? Today it’s patients and visitors. But it would also benefit facility management, staff and security operations. There’s a whole range of enterprise use cases that come out of this so perfectly naturally.