I recently had the pleasure of moderating a Vendome HEALTHCARE DESIGN Webinar entitled How the ICONS Have Fared: Mega-Hospitals with Major Dreams. The presentation by Donald McKahan, AIA, FACHA; D. Kirk Hamilton, FAIA, FACHA; and Francis Murdock Pitts, AIA, FACHA, OAA, is the latest in the long-running series of ICONS sessions that have appeared on the healthcare design conference circuit (including our own HEALTHCARE DESIGN conference, of course) for a number of years now. The series is wildly popular with audiences, but if you're unfamiliar with it, the basis of the presentations is essentially one of learning from the past: each session examines the most important “lessons learned” from the most innovative and groundbreaking healthcare facilities. Past subjects have included such “iconic” facilities as the Mayo Clinic, MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Banner Estrella Medical Center.

It stands to reason that we continue to look at these projects to see just what works and what doesn't over time. After all, these facilities were once thought of as groundbreaking and innovative in some respect, but the real proof is in how these innovations worked out long term. There is massive value in these sessions because they tell the audience specifically what worked and what didn't, warts and all. There is just as much to learn from what was successful as there is to learn from what wasn't.

One of the things that I tell every publicist and marketing person I speak to about how to get an article into HEALTHCARE DESIGN is that any sort of honest post-occupancy evaluation stories they can bring my way are pure gold, for essentially the reasons I outlined above. “Get me a good POE story and I will move heaven and earth to find you a spot in these pages,” I say. To this day, none of them have taken me up on it.

I'm speculating here, but I suspect a big reason for this is because publicists and marketing folks always want to promote their big new projects rather than looking back on old work, and I totally understand that. However, as the ICONS series proves, there is not only value in that POE information, but there is a large and enthusiastic audience that wants to hear it. It has long frustrated me that we haven't been able to get more of these stories into print; hopefully this public plea will result in some crossing my desk soon.

In any case, I applaud the ICONS crew for making it happen themselves. Keep your eyes peeled for their next session; I guarantee you will learn something. HD

Todd Hutlock, Editor-in-Chief Healthcare Design 2010 March;10(3):10