Research, research and more research ... that was my motto for this class. I had become engulfed in the world of US healthcare. Using my state, New Jersey, and local hospitals as the base for my research, I learned that it was the first state to pass a cultural competence law for all state hospitals. This is a huge deal considering the diverse population in New Jersey that has been rapidly increasing. Cultural competence is being aware, receptive and understanding to cultures other than one’s own. It would be easy to simply mandate that all patients speak English in order to interact with the hospital, but that is not the case. Hospitals are learning to adapt to their patients. My goal was to take an existing hospital and make it more accessible to non-English speaking patients. With the high number of Spanish and Chinese speaking population in New Jersey, I planned to focus on these two languages along with English as a means of communication. What I noticed was that the hospitals seem to do the minimum as far as signage is concerned. It relied heavily on security and staff to help patients who were not native speakers of English. This to me seemed ineffective and taxing on the staff. How could I make it easier for everyone?
What I devised is a system that concentrates on touch points. I labeled this system of touch points “Project ACE.” ACE stands for Access, Communication and Experience: these are the pillars to making patients feel more comfortable. Touch points are locations/people either surrounding or inside the hospital that help patients navigate a possibly confusing and intimidating hospital environment.
My system of touch points would help patients locate the hospital from key areas around the neighborhood. Signage would be placed in conjunction with other navigational signs, creating a path toward the hospital. The sign would use the universal “H” symbol denoting hospital and also include arrows and Chinese characters to show direction. Once inside the hospital other touch points would be highly visible to help incoming patients. Multi-lingual touchscreens and signs around the hospital would make patients more at ease with their surroundings. The Information desk would have signs, brochures and staff willing to help patients. Elevator would have signage that would also be multilingual. Patients would feel as if the hospital, doctors and nurses truly care about giving them excellent care and support.