With their new Clinics and Surgery Center Building, the University of Minnesota Health looked for an opportunity to reevaluate how they approach their care model, their brand position, and the ongoing goal of reducing the cost of care.
Leaders at the institution – a collaboration between University of Minnesota Physicians, Fairview Health Services, and the University of Minnesota Medical Center – challenged the design team to improve the patient experience by creating a facility that incorporated the best ideas from the worlds of retail and hospitality. The technology-enhanced customer service of an Apple store, for example, and the warm, comfortable interiors of an Aloft Hotel.
Working in close collaboration with the project’s architects, we created a wayfinding and signage program that reflects this emphasis on customer service and patient empowerment. The program also addresses some of the facility’s unique architectural features and operational challenges, such as the inclusion of staff “touchdown” areas and the need to accommodate day-to-day changes in clinic functions.
One of the most important elements of the design solution is the extensive use of digital panels in signage elements. These panels allow directional signage and directories to be updated easily to reflect changes to the layout of the facility as it adapts to new programs and new healthcare innovations.
At the same time, digital panels near building entrances are used to support the institution’s system of “Apple-style” customer check-in, where patients begin the check-in process at home, and then are greeted by roving staff members as they enter, rather than dealing with an imposing check-in desk. A vertical information kiosk helps to anchor the check-in experience and deliver important information to arriving patients.
Identification signage for departments – as well as elements for identifying levels, entries, or building amenities – has a bold retail style. This helps to reinforce the institution’s commitment to creating a new approach to patient care, where clarity of experience and patient comfort are recognized as important contributors to successful outcomes.
Since the 300,000-square-foot Clinics and Surgery Center building will serve as the anchor for a new healthcare district, the signage and wayfinding program is designed to help establish a clear brand identity for the University of Minnesota Health, while also reflecting the building’s brick and terra-cotta architectural materials palette. The exterior wayfinding elements recall the rhythmic patterning of the building, and are designed to maintain open sight lines (i.e., minimize large surfaces behind which people can hide) to address the client’s security concerns.