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SafeBuzz: Old technology creates new solutions
11. July 2017
By Simeon Eichel
By employing a simple and thoroughly tested technology known from the restaurant world, SafeBuzz creates safety in the waiting room, minimalises wasted time in a pressured health care industry, improves patients' service experience and frees up personnel resources.

SafeBuzz does not look like a service revolution, but the simple and thoroughly tested technology is exactly what makes it a genius design solution with lots of potentials. The small pager creates safety in the waiting room and minimalises wasted time in a pressured healthcare sector, and thereby it improves the patient's service experience while freeing up personnel resources.

As the result of a merger, Hvidvore Hospital had to create just one outpatient clinic under the gastro unit - a department, where patients with all sorts of gastrointestinal diseases are treated. As a result it was only possible to establish one central waiting area. Because the merger combined many previous separate departments into one, different problems arose that challenged the previous practice where the caregivers themselves would retrieve the patient. The new department has very long corridors, and the unit consists of a complex network of functions, which shows in the way the waiting area is structured.

Therefore, Hvidvovre Hospital approached the design company Triagonal. Triagonal is a design office that specialises in wayfinding, which is simply put about giving directions from A to B, C or D. 

Hvidovre Hospital wanted to make sure the patients could get from the waiting area to the treatment room by themselves. The first step in the process was to do a series of workshops with employees focused on generating ideas. The development in the health care sector is characterised by short processes with difficult economic choices. The project was financially limited and temporary, as the results had to be useful immediately.

"At the moment, hospitals are focusing on the patients having a good experience. Therefore, there is a lot of openness towards testing new solutions. The healthcare sector lacks innovation, and is calling for new ideas and new services."

Peter Donner, partner in Triagonal

"At the moment, hospitals are focusing on the patients having a good experience. Therefore, there is a lott of openness towards testing new solutions. The healthcare sector lacks innovation, and is calling for new ideas and new services."

The initial development phase resulted in a pager not unlike those from the restaurant industry. The pager notifies the patient by vibrating once it is their turn, and also shows a number that indicates which room to go to. By using coloured dots on the floor - a classic wayfinding system people easily understand - the patient is able to find her own way to the treatment room.

SafeBuzz

Apart from the practical wayfinding function SafeBuzz gives, the solution has had other positive effects for the patients. Throughout the user tests and observations, Triagonal identified a high degree of unsafety amongst the patients during the previous registration process. A typical registration happens like this: You announce your arrival in the reception and afterwards your name will be called in the plenum. Having no form of receipt can cause concern about whether you've been forgotten - and the fact that you have to be aware of whether your name is called creates a concern that you might not hear it. This meant many patients did not dare to go to the bathroom during the waiting time, and thus had to visit the bathroom first thing when their name was called, which made the waiting time even longer. On top of this, some patients found it uncomfortable to have their name called in the plenum.  All this is avoided by employing SafeBuzz.

On top of this, the personnel now has much better time between the consultations. This allows the personnel to make more thorough preparations for the next consultation instead of spending time picking up patients in the waiting room.

Even though it is increadibly simple, SafeBuzz is, therefore, the perfect solution to a complex problem. By emplying a well-known and tested technology, SafeBuzz is an inspiring example of how technology from one industry can create unexpected benefits in other industries if only we keep our eyes open to the potentials. This was pointed out by the jury at the Danish Design Award 2017, where SafeBuzz was a finalist in the categories Outstanding Service and Better Work.

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