100+ Examples of Why Design Matters For Patients
Like many of you, I was surprised to read the recent headlines claiming that a new Johns Hopkins study proves that design doesn’t really affect patient experience. Then I read the articles. Then I read the actual study. Colleagues Sheila Cahnman and Sara Marberry both did a nice job expressing why so many of the articles were misleading and oversimplified, so I don’t need to get into that here. But suffice it to say that, especially on the heels of the week I’d had before the headlines hit, I was annoyed.
The week before, I’d been in Washington, D.C., with more than a dozen professionals who’ve dedicated their careers to healthcare and the design of healthcare spaces. The occasion: the annual selection process for the educational program at the Healthcare Design Conference. The program team (myself included) was responsible for reading nearly 500 session proposals, assessing their educational merits and the expertise of the speakers, and winnowing them down to approximately 100 sessions to provide the bulk of the conference program.
It’s a rigorous and exhausting process, but exhilarating, too. We all just want the best, so there’s a lot of conversation about the learning objectives and—a phrase that came up a lot—what’s new here? The selection process has a natural focus on research and best practices, as well. The people who crafted their session proposals know all of this; we make it clear in the call for proposals. To even make it to the table for consideration, proposals have to include real insight, forward-thinking planning, and solid examples of how design will affect patients, staff, or the bottom line—if not all three.
So when the planning team met for those two days in D.C., I can assure you that there wasn’t a single argument along the lines of: “This expensive, pretty design element will make patients so happy, they’ll forget they’re in a hospital!” Because that’s not what we’re about, and it’s not what you do. So when you see a headline that proclaims: “Hospital Design Has Little Effect on Patient Satisfaction,” you know there’s far, far more to the story. And you have the details to prove it. Just make sure you share them with the world.