The recently concluded 2012 edition of the American Society for Healthcare Engineering of the American Hospital Association International Summit & Exhibition on Health Facility Planning, Design, and Construction (commonly known as the ASHE PDC Summit) marked my fourth time attending the event, and I can honestly say that even now, more than 48 hours after leaving Phoenix, I am not entirely sure what to think. In some ways, this was definitely the best PDC Summit I have attended; in other ways, I can see how it could be deemed less than successful to all but a handful of attendees (myself included).

Let me start by getting the good stuff out of the way first: The content presented at this year's PDC Summit was strong--perhaps the highest quality I've seen in my years attending. The Plenary sessions were meaty and interesting, and the Concurrent sessions I attended were all top notch.

However (and you knew this was coming)... it seemed that there was definitely less content to go around. Over the course of the PDC Summit, there was a total of  only 33 concurrent "breakout" sessions. Contrast that with the 2010 schedule, which featured 49 such sessions. So while the quality of the material was high, it was not exactly plentiful, and the choices were limited compared to the numbers of the past. The number of general sessions remained roughly the same.

The general sessions, however, presented other issues of concern. While the material was compelling--from T. R. Reid's opening keynote to master of ceremonies Ian Morrison's closing summary--it was for the most part focused on only the "P" of the intended PDC audience; that is, the planning. The overarching theme was how to plan and operate healthcare facilities in both the near- and long-term future under the changing environs of the U.S. health system under (perhaps) Obamacare and (maybe) healthcare reform. And again, I would like to be clear that this material was compelling, informative, and well worth attendees' time.

But design talk? Practically nonexistent. Engineering discussions? Ghostlike. Construction discussions? Nowhere to be found, at least not in the general sessions--an update on the 2014 Facility Guidelines aside. There were tips of the hat in those directions, to be sure, and at least modest attempts to connect the design professions to the topics at hand. But I can't help thinking that if I were a card-carrying AIA or ASHE member, I would be wondering if this material was actually meant for me. It certainly seemed to be more geared toward hospital ownership and management than any of the "D" or "C" titles out there.

Regardless, I know I'll be there in San Francisco to see what happens next year. Hopefully the 2013 PDC Summit maintain the quality and increase the quantity (and relevance) for a true win-win for the attendees.

So were you at the 2012 ASHE PDC Summit? What did you think? Post your thoughts below, or email me directly.