I recently joined 200 of my Perkins+Will healthcare architect and interior designer colleagues and dedicated 12 hours to a single focus: innovation. Connected via Web-conferencing, internal Perkins+Will teams across the nation discussed, collaborated, and challenged each other to define, refine, and attempt innovation. We call this annual event our "Center of Excellence," which promotes the growth of our knowledge base and improves our healthcare practice with a varying healthcare focus topic every year.

Since the event, I have found the word innovation continuously on the tip of my tongue. And it appears I am not the only one; it is clearly on the mind of Washington Post columnist, Daniel M. Harrison who asked in a headline "Can Innovation Save the Economy?" In the article, Harrison pays homage to innovation as a "classic American advantage" and reminds us of innovation's impact on our economic system. Not surprisingly, healthcare technology and medicine reign the innovative product/concept list (Harrison G3).

In a field being heralded as the key to the economy, what does it mean for designers and, maybe more critically, what are designers doing to facilitate innovation in healthcare interiors? Many innovative design, research, and building processes are taking shape, some of which have been topics of this very blog.

The movement of evidence-based design is perfectly poised to innovate within healthcare interiors. Through the research process we can change the way facility staff and administration think about their building's relationship to patient and staff health.

Another component to building based on research is sustainability. Through organizations such as the US Green Building Council and the Green Guide for Health Care, sustainability is also leading innovation in healthcare facilities, as well as the remainder of the building industry. Fellow blogger, Aimee Parscale, writes expressly to LEED and Healthcare in her blog "What is LEED? And how does it affect healthcare”.

In keeping with the topic of science connected to design, Deborah Burnett writes to the specifics of lighting's affect on our neurons in "The science of neurogenesis and how it relates to today's patient room design".

Fellow ASID Bloggers have also focused on wayfinding in hospital signage and overall experience. Considering Matthew DeGeeter's "Wayfinding in Healthcare" and Lisa M. Cini's "Wayfinding starts in the parking garage" could lead the designer towards new innovations in patient and visitor experience.

From broad concepts such as evidence-based design and detailed aspects of wayfinding, designers’ options for innovation are open and growing fast. My experience with Perkins+Will's Center of Excellence demonstrated discussion's power as a driving force for innovation; therefore, share your ideas for healthcare interior innovations and let's see where it takes us...

Harrison, Daniel M., "Can Innovation Save the Economy?" The Washington Post October 18, 2009, Business: G1, G3.