Evidence-based design is nothing new to us at Nurture; it's something we believe in very strongly. Virtually all of our efforts—all of our products and solutions—are driven by the principles of evidence-based design. By utilizing these principles, we believe our team can come up with better products and better solutions to address the physical space and how that space can have a positive impact on the healing process.

Whether it is an outpatient or inpatient setting—everything from exam rooms, ERs, to oncology infusion spaces—employing the theories of evidence-based design in the studies that we do allows us to develop not just an individual furniture product, but to tie together a whole solution.

A key to evidence-based design and research is getting to the all-important final step of measurement, an area we're heavily involved in right now. One example is our current study of patient exam rooms. In conjunction with a leading healthcare facility, we recently fielded a three-month research project—a triple-blind study—where the doctors, the patients, and even the field researchers did not know exactly what we were measuring, nor the full premise behind the study.

Our theory is that by approaching an exam room from a different physical perspective, we can improve the outcomes for the patients—whether it's through patient education, following doctors orders, reducing stress and anxiety, and more. We believe that this new environmental structure will lead to better outcomes and we'll soon have the data to prove it.

We will be publishing the results of that study within the next few months. We're excited that we'll be able to add to the evidence-based design knowledge base and talk about the difference that space can play in the healing process.

By using the theories of evidence-based design to drive those solutions, we believe that we can help increase compliance, shorten healing time and bring everybody together to truly collaborate to solve a patient's situation.

Our belief in evidence-based design is why we have partnered with The Center for Health Design (CHD) to underwrite the next two phases of The Center's Evidence-Based Design Assessment and Certification Program (EDAC). In 2005, CHD received a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to develop EDAC and complete Phase I of the program, which focused on building the accreditation program for healthcare and design professionals. The next two phases of the program will focus on the implementation of a communications plan and the development of a set of educational resources such as online study tools, practitioner communities and a series of workshops.

I believe that EDAC represents an important step for the industry. More than 100 volunteer healthcare and design experts from across the country have developed the foundation for the program. It begins to put a solid framework and structure around an education, accreditation, and certification program for the people who are going to professionally practice evidence-based design.

EDAC will allow for architects, design professionals, administrators, and other healthcare professionals to demonstrate a clear understanding of the components of evidence-based design and how to apply those principles, along with the latest research, to their projects.

The program will support a wide variety of healthcare and design professionals who have direct responsibility for planning and designing facilities. An evidence-based practitioner makes decisions based on the best information available from research and project evaluations. The result is a higher-quality healthcare experience for patients, families, and staff members.

“Years of research and an incredible amount of effort has gone into developing the base knowledge and examination for EDAC,” says Debra Levin, President and CEO of CHD. “We are thrilled to bring this valuable educational tool to healthcare and design professionals worldwide.”

Michael Love

Michael Love

At the recent HEALTHCARE DESIGN.07 conference in Dallas, there were more than 3,000 attendees—a combination of architects, designers, and healthcare facility representatives. The show has grown tremendously over the past five years precisely because people are interested in and are looking towards implementing and using evidence-based design as a way to create improved environments and spaces.

For Nurture, EDAC will help create stronger, common bonds with the professionals in the fields that are charged with developing these spaces. It will help connect key players across the healthcare design and construction fields very well. It helps create a common platform and a common language that will help improve the working relationship for all of us.

D. Kirk Hamilton, FAIA, FACHA, associate director of the Center for Health Systems & Design at Texas A&M University, recently said, “Evidence-based design for healthcare architecture has been called the natural parallel and analog to evidence-based medicine. EDAC provides a way in which the multiple roles involved in a complex project can be encouraged to work together to develop higher quality projects with a solid foundation in research.” I wholeheartedly agree with Kirk.

When the healthcare facility, the healthcare architect, and the healthcare environment provider, along with other companies involved, truly communicate and understand what everyone is trying to accomplish, then we are all working together for the greater good.

And the winner in the whole thing should be—and will be—the patient.

I congratulate The Center for undertaking this program and leading this effort. We are proud to be their partner in EDAC and I encourage each of you to learn more about the program and participate in the education and certification process. HD

Michael Love is President of Nurture by Steelcase, a company dedicated to developing research-driven, evidence-based solutions for the healthcare industry. Nurture is focused on making healthcare environments more comfortable, more efficient, and more conducive to the healing process.

For further information, visit http://www.nurture bysteelcase.com.