As we all know, change is inevitable. It's often unpredictable and, more often than not, brings new opportunities. This is the case for The Center for Health Design. After more than a decade and a half of either producing or being associated with The Symposium on Healthcare Design, The Center has ended its affiliation with the event. Although this was not an easy decision, we are confident that the new doors that have opened for us lead to an opportunity for great growth for The Center and great benefit to our industry.

In December 2003, we are launching a new conference called HEALTHCARE DESIGN.03. Our partner for this endeavor is Medquest Communications, the organization we have teamed up with for the past two years to publish HEALTHCARE DESIGN. Together, we plan to produce a conference that provides attendees with forward-looking information, ideas, and resources that will continue to shape and transform the healthcare design industry. The event will bring together design professionals, healthcare executives, and product manufacturers for a conference experience like no other-one that promotes and celebrates the soul of our work, which is healing.

We plan to fashion HEALTH-CARE DESIGN.03 in the same collegial spirit that attracted the community of invested professionals who frequented the Symposium for many years. We intend to showcase the latest trends in facility design, the most recent results in the field of evidence-based design research, and innovative ideas from around the world. HEALTHCARE DESIGN.03 will focus not purely on the aesthetics of design, but also on how the design of the physical environment affects the quality of care and the economic health and organizational success of the healthcare facility.

Today, more than ever, we have a unique opportunity to influence the delivery of our nation's healthcare. It has already been proven that healthcare can be delivered in facilities that are sensitive to the needs of patients and staff. Yet most healthcare facilities were not built with either of these groups' total well-being in mind. The study of evidence-based-design focuses on creating an environment that helps to stimulate patients' healing and recovery, lower their stress, support their family members and friends, and benefit staff members.

This requires both healthcare and design professionals who are willing to “step out of the box” when designing and building new facilities. It requires healthcare and design professionals who are willing to spend more time at the outset of the design process to ensure the total well-being of future patients and the best performance by staff. This requires having access to the latest research findings on the relationship between the design of the physical environment and the health, economic, and staffing outcomes.

The goals of both HEALTH-CARE DESIGN magazine and the HEALTHCARE DESIGN .03 conference are to give healthcare professionals, design professionals, and the manufacturers of the products used to create healthcare environments the tools they need to work at their highest capacities. Currently, even in this critical time, when so many decisions are being made that will affect the next generation of facilities, no meeting place exists where likeminded individuals can learn from and share with each other in such a powerful, interactive way. The following is just one example of the types of projects and information attendees at HEALTHCARE DESIGN .03 will have access to.

Methodist Hospital, Clarian Health Partners, Indianapolis, Indiana. Walking through the 56-bed cardiology comprehensive critical-care unit, one experiences the ambience of a four-star hotel. But beyond the aesthetics of the design lies a formidable body of research. Noting that critical-care patients are often moved an average of three times during their stay to adjust for their changes in acuity, Project Director Ann Hendrich analyzed up to 18 separate steps involved in patient transport, costing the hospital more than $17 million annually and costing the patient even more in disruption of care.

The solution was a large patient room that could adjust for acuity, with equipment that tucks away out of sight until needed. Nurses' aides supply the room in a way that ends the “run and fetch” syndrome. A sampling of the results:

  • Patient transport reduced by 90%

  • Patient/family dissatisfaction decreased from 6.7% to 2.7%

  • Patient days per bed increased from 320 to 345

  • Falls decreased 75% because of the unit's decentralized design, permitting better observation of patients' ambulation

  • Medical errors decreased

With evidence of this sort in mind, we have chosen the theme of “Advancing and Transforming the Built Environment” as the tagline for the conference. We believe that by bringing together the right group of people who are invested in the work they do, and creating an opportunity for a high-level, high-impact experience, we can not only create an unsurpassed learning opportunity, but we can also accelerate the advancement of our industry and transform both the organizational culture of healthcare facilities and the built environment of healthcare. As we have discovered in recent years, both go hand in hand.

So keep an eye on your mail, e-mail, and the pages of this magazine to stay up to date on the conference program. And please plan to join us, along with many of your friends and colleagues, for the inaugural conference, HEALTHCARE DESIGN.03, December 7-10 at the Hotel InterContinental Miami (Chopin Plaza) in Miami, Florida. HD

The Center for Health Design is located in Pleasant Hill, California.

Healthcare Design 2003 May;3(2):7-8