Source: Guys and St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust ID/Lab's hospital terminology and pictogram comprehension research in 2008 showed the confusion that can occur when using ‘medical or process jargon’ on signage. At first glance the results of the terminology testing provide few surprises:
Terms such as Podiatry (10%) were not understood nearly as well as Foot Clinic (42%). The lowest scores given for Allied Health (0%) and Ambulatory (0%). Both these terms are meaningless to patients and visitors, regardless of their proficiency in the English language.
The study involved users from the top five most common languages spoken by the hospitals users, representing 75% of the hospitals CALD (Cultural and Linguistic Diversity) users.
As Rob Waller on his Simpleton blog points out: Wayfinding projects are not just about showing people the way – they are often about making the way easier to show. Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital last year renamed many of their buildings to provide a set of names that makes more sense for patients. For example, people used to have trouble finding New Guy's House, because it was not particularly new. This means that they've had to change not only signs and maps, but appointment letters too.
Department names are also changing:
- 'Paediatrics' = 'Children's services'
- 'Ophthalmology' = 'Eye department'.
- 'Renal unit' = 'Kidney unit'
- 'Surgical appliances' = 'Patient appliances'.
Hurray for simplification!