I've always loved new beginnings and all the optimism that comes with them. A new school year meant fresh clean notebooks, new school clothing, and new friends. New jobs offered new opportunities, new surroundings, and new challenges. And new relationships offered the possibility of a new potential future. So, it should come as no surprise that I love the New Year, and especially enjoy the flurry of activity and celebration that leads up to January 1. We start the year with a clean slate, a list of resolutions, and the optimism to believe that anything is possible. And if we're lucky, reality doesn't tarnish that optimism in the first week of January.

The healthcare and design industry has faced a great many challenges this past year. Funding for new projects dried up, architecture and design firms laid off many talented people, and product manufacturers saw considerable declines in orders. In general, it felt like on a good day we were all at a standstill and on a bad day we were sliding down a very steep precipice. Gratefully, our industry was much more fortunate than many others.

Yet with a new year comes what seems to be a new confidence in moving forward on many building projects that had previously been put on hold. As I talked with people from around the United States these past several months, I learned that there was great innovation stowed away on computer files or sitting on drafting tables just waiting for the opportunity to be built. It seems that 2010 will bring the light of day to many of those projects, and hopefully the coming year will be the start of an upswing in all aspects of our industry and our economy as a whole.

In the spirit of an optimistic future, I'd like to let you know where The Center for Health Design envisions itself five years from now by sharing portions of our strategic plan.

In the next decade, I believe that the research being conducted and the design interventions happening around evidence-based healthcare design will reach beyond traditional healthcare environments to impact the design and potential outcomes of a more diverse group of environments. Healthcare is moving beyond acute and ambulatory care settings into different types of environments throughout our communities, as well as into the home. In light of this, The Center for Health Design will continue to expand the definition of a healthcare environment to wellness models that include the home, workplace, and environments for healthy aging. We will broaden our understanding to explore the role that the design of communities plays in health as well.

Along with this expanded definition of what constitutes a healthcare environment, the overarching vision of The Center for Health Design is to engender a world where all healthcare environments are designed to produce the highest level of health and economic outcomes. In order to achieve that vision, The Center will continue investing in the research, education, and advocacy work we are currently involved with, but work to shift our energies and resources to accomplishing the following four goals over the next four to five years.

Move from being an organization that is focused on acute care settings to one that is based on a broader wellness-based definition of healthcare environments.

Partner with key stakeholders and organizations globally and work to engage the healthcare community at all levels in the conversation to uncover the various ways the built environment can promote more positive health and economic outcomes.

Participate in state and national conversations on healthcare legislation and reform, and work to infuse the building codes and standards with research-based recommendations to substantiate future guidelines.

If you would like to follow me on Twitter and join in on the discussions we are having, I can be found at http://www.twitter.com/CHD_DebraLevin.

To connect with me via LinkedIn, go to http://www.linkedin.com/in/debralevin. I'll be keeping an eye out for you.

-Debra Levin

Augment our key communications that currently occur primarily in person and in small groups, with a robust web-based communication tool that promotes information sharing, communication, and education across the globe.

None of our goals will be achieved overnight and it will take significant partnerships with many organizations across all healthcare disciplines to realize them. However, we are confident that the seeds of many of these relationships already exist and that the end result will be a world where all healthcare environments are designed to produce the highest level of health and economic outcomes.

Wishing you all good things in 2010. As always, I invite your feedback. HD

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

For more information, visit http://www.healthdesign.org.

Healthcare Design 2010 February;10(2):8