M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

Houston, Texas System of Pathways and Landmarks Simplifies Large, Complex Environment

M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

One of the world’s largest and most prestigious healthcare institutions, the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center operates in an enormous physical environment. And the navigation challenges faced by patients are often magnified by frightening diagnoses, unfamiliar or exhausting treatments, and varying levels of ability with written and spoken English.

To address these challenges, fd2s began with an in-depth Experience Audit that analyzed the needs of patients and visitors, as well as the staff that serves them. This analysis included a combination of on-site observation, patient and visitor interviews, mock admission and arrival exercises, and worksessions with institution staff and other stakeholders.

The understanding cultivated during this intense analysis phase led to the development of a strategy that called for the creation of a unified and highly recognizable system that addressed the needs of users at every possible point of contact. The strategy recognized that an effective system would need to reach across every aspect of the hospital’s environment and operations, including architecture and interiors, signage and wayfinding, communications, services, and internal processes.

The elements concepted, designed, documented, and produced by fd2s in the implementation of this strategy are extensive, and the effort has involved close coordination with staff from throughout M. D. Anderson, ranging from facilities and information technology to marketing and public relations.

Elements developed by fd2s include:

  • A distinctive “Access” identity, which unifies the diverse elements and increases awareness of the system
  • An innovative “pathway and landmark” wayfinding approach that uses clearly marked routes and provides directional information exactly when it is needed
  • Touch-screen kiosks and a wayfinding-oriented web site that enable users to access personal appointment and destination information and generate customized directions
  • A flexible, robust program of environmental graphics that supports the pathway and landmark system
  • Printed materials such as maps and visitor guides
  • Printed, online, and video tools to train staff and volunteers to use the new wayfinding system and encourage its adoption
  • A software tool that allows staff to update components impacted by facility expansions or modifications

The Access wayfinding system has been well received by patients and staff, and fd2s and M. D. Anderson are currently engaged in activities to quantify the benefits of the system, including participating in the Center for Health Design’s “Pebble Project.” In addition, the system received a prestigious Honor Award in 2005 from the Society for Experiential¬†Graphic Design.

  • Categories: Healthcare
  • Client: University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center

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