It is almost conference time, and we have all made choices on how to extricate ourselves from our very busy work schedules and home lives to pause, reflect, and absorb new knowledge. There are many choices and some hard decisions on which venues to choose. Over the years it becomes easier to know where we should be. It is the conference that forces us to think outside the box, that informs us on the latest developments in our design specialty, and that inspires us to do transformational work. This is why The Center for Health Design endorses and supports HEALTHCARE DESIGN.06.

This year, on November 4, in the Windy City of Chicago, HEALTHCARE DESIGN.06 begins with a great lineup of keynote speakers, workshops, facility tours, exhibitors, and networking opportunities. What sets this conference apart is the caliber of speakers, the relevance of the knowledge, and the timeliness of the discussion matter but more importantly, the dynamics of the attendees. This conference has always attracted the top decision makers in healthcare design. It is the accessibility to the “after-program” discussions and networking that creates the valuable difference.

Educational offerings, which are selected by The Center for Health Design, are sure to inspire a great deal of innovation informed by an evidence-based approach to design. Many of you have heard of or read the article published in the Fall 2004 issue of Frontiers of Health Services Management that created a business case for the “hospital of the future,” using data on economic outcomes from our first four Pebble Projects. A conservative estimate of the savings and revenue gains showed almost a complete return on investment in the first year of operation as a result of making smart, evidence-based design choices. The lesson, which will be presented at HEALTHCARE DESIGN.06 with some new ideas, is valuable for those of you who are struggling with cost overruns on your projects.

In 2007, we will have a large class of providers participating in our Pebble Project research initiative that will open new buildings and begin postoccupancy reviews and data collection. Several will be sharing the results of their interim studies that took place in their mock-ups or ongoing renovation projects at the HEALTHCARE DESIGN.06 conference. The value of sharing knowledge this way is that it foreshortens the innovation cycle in healthcare design. Typically, the best practices in healthcare are nine years old. Indeed, it takes about nine years for most projects to come online, be developed, constructed, and opened so that we may tour them as “the latest and the greatest.” How do we expect innovation to occur in an industry as complex as healthcare in nine-year cycles? Be sure to attend the presentation of the Pebble Project participants’ innovative evidence-based design concepts.

I look forward to the new insights that I will have for my clients as a result of choosing HEALTHCARE DESIGN.06 as my conference of choice this year.

In addition, it is my pleasure to announce that Sara O. Marberry has joined the staff of The Center for Health Design as Executive Vice-President. Sara is not new to The Center; she served as a member of the Board of Directors from 1993 to 1996 and 1999, Interim President in 1999, and has been our consulting Director of Communications since 1993.

A former editor of Contract magazine, Sara has been a marketing communications consultant to the healthcare and design industry since 1990. She is a frequent speaker, as well as the editor/author of five books, the latest of which is Improving Healthcare With Better Building Design (Health Administration Press, December 2005).

During her tenure as The Center's consulting Director of Communications, she propelled the organization into the studios of all healthcare design firms and onto healthcare executives’ desks through her connections to the healthcare and design press and incredible ability to craft our messages as we tour this country. Recently tackling the task of getting our Pebble Project news into the popular press, Sara has gotten our good work published in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, American Way, and many community newspapers. She has been an active participant in all aspects of our work and close counsel to Debra Levin, The Center's President.

During her tenure as Interim President in 1999, Sara managed The Center's affairs after the unexpected departure of its original founder and president, hiring a new president and helping to develop the course for the next decade of our work.

As Board Chair, I have worked closely with Sara and have the utmost respect and admiration for her capabilities as a manager and an incredible ambassador. Her management skills will help launch this ever-growing organization to where our board strategically plans for it to go.

Look for Sara at HEALTHCARE DESIGN.06 and congratulate her for a job well done and for the promise of our new beginnings together.

See you there! HD

The Center for Health Design is located in Concord, California.