In case you haven't heard, the Cleveland Clinic is branching out. Under the visionary leadership of President and CEO Dr. Toby Cosgrove, the world-renowned health system has bucked recent trends by building, expanding, and renovating facilities at a rate that is putting much of the rest of the country in the rearview mirror. At a time when many hospital leaders are looking to lean their operations and dial back operations until the healthcare reform/Obamacare war is over, the Clinic has been a distinct outlier to the trend.

Over the last month or so, my editorial colleages and I have visited three of these new facilities (Twinsburg Family and Health Surgery Center, the Hillcrest Hospital expansion, and most recently, Marymount Hospital), and I will be visiting the new Avon facility in the coming weeks. These buildings all share a distincive style--minimal, serene, high-end, with fine art on the walls, uniform and monochromatic leather seating in wating areas, fritted class on a white/gray exterior with a canopy in front, and so on--as well as some distinctive operational ideas behind those choices (click on the image gallery to see a comparison between the twinsburg and Hillcrest facilities, both designed by Westlake Reed Leskosky). While the "book" of evidence-based design may preach postiive distractions, the Clinic feels a lack of distractions of general is the way to go. The look is of a unified brand, despite the fact that three of the four facilities mentioned above were designed by different architectural firms.

Is their way better? Well, it seems to work for them, and in some ways, that is the only real measure of success. But how much can other healthcare systems learn from this path the Cleveland Clinic is blazing? And how much are they willing to learn? Only time will tell, but it will certainly be an interesting journey.