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Digital Transformation is Everywhere

27 June 2019

Digital transformation is more than just a buzzword. It is fast becoming a reality for all types of businesses, and for it to succeed customer focus is critical.

Successful digital transformation requires organisations to:

  • Focus on patient experience
  • Proactively drive cultural digital change
  • Develop a plan for digital strategy to ensure maximum advantage

Digital transformation is quickly becoming a vital part of business initiatives across all industries. It needs to be embraced in order to survive, and when considered appropriately, creates the opportunity to thrive.

Adopt early to create market advantage

What did we do before GPS? We could look at a map or a street directory and consider the multitude of routes to follow. But static maps lacked the additional information that we now take for granted, such as fastest or least expensive routes, or roads with the least amount of traffic. GPS has the capacity to give us the full picture of our journey.

Consumers have embraced GPS technology to help them get to their destination, and the next progression will be the expectation that navigation support (wayfinding) will continue once they arrive at their chosen venue.

These days many people can’t imagine life without GPS. Companies who have embraced this and other emerging technologies are reaping the rewards. The ability to keep pace with technology is the key to leaving the competition behind.

People will no longer accept that getting lost within the corridors of a large hospital or any large building is an acceptable experience, or that taking a longer than necessary route to get to an appointment or desired location makes sense. As a 2018 Gartner report concurs, “Wayfinding of any generational level should no longer be considered nice to have.[01]

Further Gartner reports also identify that, “Healthcare provider CIOs should use wayfinding technologies to deliver positive and memorable consumer and patient experiences. Wayfinding can increase patient satisfaction and retention, introduce the healthcare provider to an emerging experiential economy, and provide an on-ramp to the Real Time Healthcare System.”[02]

A 2019 survey of PowerHealth clients revealed the following results:

  • 91% of respondents believe that pursuing digital innovation is necessary for competitive advantage
  • 80% of respondents have already identified digital innovation as a necessary part of their long-term strategy to improve healthcare

Just like GPS, in-premises digital wayfinding is becoming the new norm.

Digital expectations of consumer and healthcare professionals

Digital apps, tools and services are now expected to feature throughout every aspect of our lives, and healthcare does not escape this expectation.

The Australian Digital Health Agency reports “Australians are already choosing to use digital apps, tools and services as the preferred way to manage their personal and professional lives. The consultation process has reinforced the increasing expectation that Australians want to use digital apps and services to support their health and care needs. Healthcare professionals also want to take advantage of innovative tools that are not only safe and secure but integrate with their workflow and improve efficiency.”[03]

“The future will be characterized by smart devices delivering increasingly insightful digital services everywhere” says David W. Cearley, Distinguished VP Analyst, Gartner. “We call this the intelligent digital mesh.”[13]

Internal wayfinding - the market advantages

Why should healthcare organisations place a priority on building their wayfinding capability? The advantages are clear, and include the following benefits:

  • Fewer missed appointments
  • Reduced lost revenue
  • Higher profitability and clinical level of care
  • Empowered visitors
  • Better patient engagement
  • Increased organisational efficiency
  • Continuous improvement
  • Reduced inequalities
  • Improved patient safety
  • Opportunities to support other businesses within the facility

Hospitals with high patient-reported experience scores have higher profitability and clinical level of care

Research conducted by Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions notes the important investment consideration that patient experience now demands. With the market shift towards value-based and patient-centred models of care, improving patient experience is an increasingly common focus for hospitals.

Furthermore, it was found that hospitals with better patient-reported experience perform better financially and have higher clinical quality measures.

“With the renewed patient and payer emphasis on patient experience as a core element of care quality, our results suggest that hospitals should consider investing in the mechanisms, tools and technology necessary to better engage patients and enhance patient experience.”[04]

The 2018 KPMG report entitled ‘Patient experience: How do we get to extraordinary?’, also identifies the positive outcomes that a focus on patient experience creates. “There is a growing recognition that healthcare organisations need to shift to patient-centred approaches and understand how to deliver positive patient experiences”, noting that “A patient-centred approach to the design, delivery and evaluation of healthcare services will improve patient outcomes, the quality of care and reduce costs.”[14]

Gartner agrees, “In an ‘experience’ economy, implementing a wayfinding solution is becoming fundamental to creating memorable and positive consumer and patient experience. These experiences influence patient satisfaction and perceptions of the healthcare provider and create a more efficient and productive work environment for caregivers.”[01]

Gartner also reports, “Quality of patient experience depends on the organizational culture that fosters it and on the IT that enables it. Healthcare provider administration and IT leadership should use this research to determine how the right policies and technologies can contribute to an enduring patient relationship.”[05]

Wayfinding technology reduces the cost of missed appointments


In Australia the cost of missed appointments is significant. In a Media Statement released by the Government of Western Australia in February 2019, Health Minister Roger Cook commented that, "While more than 1.8 million outpatient appointments were delivered across our hospitals in 12 months, it is concerning that a further 160,000 appointments were missed and ultimately wasted. This results in $26 million in lost productivity and a high personal cost to other patients in need.” [06]

The ‘Spotlight on Health Results – Behavioural Insights Short Report’ released by the New South Wales Premier & Cabinet Behaviour Insights Unit, confirmed the significant cost of missed appointments, reporting that St Vincent Hospital (SVH) estimate that when a patient misses an appointment it costs SVH around $125 – a total of $500,000 a year.[07]

There can be many reasons for patients missing an appointment. Forgetting the appointment and the anxiety some experience about attending are two contributing factors, and both can be assisted with a wayfinding app.

A wayfinding app can integrate with outpatient appointments, send reminders and provide directions from the patients’ home to their appointment location, thus reducing anxiety and increasing the likelihood of on-time appointment attendance.

Wayfinding empowers visitors

Wayfinding can empower visitors to help themselves, thereby reducing the stress and anxiety associated with unfamiliar surroundings. Frank Smolenaers of The Alfred Hospital recently spoke of a customer experience with PowerNav. “One patient, recovering from an acute brain injury and accompanied by his mother, was readily recruited to trial the system. The ease of navigation and sheer excitement of the patient to interact with the app led his mother to be overcome with emotion. She was thrilled that her son could manage to navigate to his own appointment – a real sense of clinical improvement and independence.”[08]

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) in London prepared an Outpatient report in 2018, which noted that 20% of pensioners who attended an outpatient appointment reported feeling worse afterwards because of the stress involved in the journey alone.[09] Wayfinding apps help reduce this stress.

Providing choice can lead to efficiency

A wayfinding system does not replace but rather enhances existing wayfinding (such as signage) employed by an organisation, and provides the visitor with a choice. Some patients may feel more comfortable asking a staff member for directions and others would prefer to use an app to navigate themselves. When the visitor chooses to use a wayfinding app, volunteers and staff experience fewer interruptions and spend less time directing people, freeing up time for other patient care activities.

Measuring patient experience and embracing co-design creates continuous improvement

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) suggests that we need to invest in “measures that will help us assess whether our health systems deliver what matters most to people.”[10] 

PowerNav benefits from an automated and timely system that asks every patient for feedback and makes that data available in real time.

“The true value in measurement of course lies in using it to design and implement processes to improve patient experience and patient-centred delivery.”[09]

“Including patients in the design and redesign of health care services is fundamental to enhancing the patient experience. Without patients’ input, we are left to assume that we understand what patients want and need and risk simply perpetuating current practices.”[14]

The need to reduce health inequalities

A report by Vic Health, Promoting health equity through addressing social determinants in healthy settings approaches - An evidence summary, defines health equality as “the notion that all people should have a fair opportunity to attain their full health potential, and that no one should be disadvantaged from achieving this potential if it can be avoided.”[12]

One of the many suggestions for promoting health equality in a healthcare setting, is developing “the provision of ethno-specific health services and the employment of staff who share the culture and language of clients (in order to improve access for people from non-English-speaking backgrounds).”[12]

This is another area where wayfinding apps can contribute:

  • Wayfinding instructions support any language to better serve multi-cultural communities
  • Wayfinding apps offer visual and voice directions to support people with hearing and vision difficulties and can identify wheelchair routes to empower all users to find their destination

Improve patient safety

A wayfinding app that displays emergency exits provides a safer hospital environment. The app creates the opportunity to direct foot traffic away from critical hospital areas and recommend the safest route.

Support businesses within your facility

A wayfinding app is an experiential platform that not only enhances patient experience but also supports businesses within the facility through positional messaging of useful information and special offers to hospital visitors.


Customer focus is critical for digital transformation success. A wayfinding app is not just about providing directions to a patient; it embraces organisation-wide initiatives to create an insightful patient-focussed experience and successful digital transformation for the organisation.

Digital wayfinding is already being considered as standard within new facilities and its days of being considered a ‘nice to have’ are numbered. Early adopters will see improvements in patient experience satisfaction and financial performance while laggards will find it difficult to make inroads on issues that are easily solved by todays technology.



Gartner: Hype Cycle for Real-Time Health System Technologies, 2018 ID: G00338517, Gregg Pessin, Barry Runyon, 25 July 2018
Gartner: Use Wayfinding to Create Superior Care Experiences that Attract Consumers and Keep Patients ID: G00290752, Barry Runyon, 19 Feb 2016
Australian Digital Health Agency: Australia's Digital Health Strategy
Deloitte: Impact of patient experience scores on clinical quality Deloitte Development, 2017
Gartner: A Superior Patient Experience Is a Meaningful Measure of Care Quality. ID: G00257907 Barry Runyon, 13 Feb 2014
Govt WA, No-shows at outpatient appointments strike a costly blow to public health Media Release, 13 February 2019
New South Wales Premier & Cabinet Behaviour Insights Unit, Spotlight on Health Results Behavioural Insights Short Report, 2015
Monash University, User centred development of a smartphone application for wayfinding in a complex hospital environment, Smolenaers, F., Chestney, T., Walsh, J., Mathieson, S., Thompson, D., Gurkan, M., & Marshall, S., 2019
Royal College of Physicians (RCP): Outpatients: the future – adding value through sustainability Report, 09 Nov 2018
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD): The next generation of health reforms, Ministerial Statement, 17 Jan 2017
The Commonwealth Fund: Patient-Centered Care: What Does it Take? Dale Shaller, 01 Oct 2017
Vic Health: Promoting health equity through addressing social determinants in health settings approaches, Sep 2015
Gartner: Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2019 David W. Cearley, 2019
KPMG: Patient experience: How do we get to extraordinary? Kate Hawkins, Evan Rawstron, 07 Feb 2018

About PowerHealth

PowerHealth is a dynamic Australian software development company specialising in activity based costing, hospital billing and safety learning solutions for healthcare organisations. The company is a market leader in Australia and New Zealand, with international recognition in the Canada, Ireland, United States, United Kingdom, Hong Kong and the Middle East.

ISO 9001 quality-accredited since 2001, PowerHealth Solutions specialises in large scale implementations ― at public hospitals, State Health Departments, District Health Boards, and private hospitals. Implementation staff are highly skilled and experienced, ensuring that new systems are up and running quickly for a rapid return on investment.