Rosalyn Cama, FASID, EDAC

Rosalyn Cama, FASID, EDAC

President Obama built a successful political campaign during his bid for this nation's highest office on the promise of “Yes we can”. “Yes we can” may mean different things to different citizens; however, for those of us in healthcare design, it is to be followed by “do no harm”. We are a community of designers and healthcare providers who are committed to building a safer, more efficient place in which to deliver quality care. Our dedication to building safer facilities is linked to our belief that a methodology known as evidence-based design can improve the delivery of healthcare for patients, their families, and their clinicians.

What slows the realization of our dream is the perception that breaking away from conventional knowledge must cost more. To some degree this is true-if the initial cost is discussed without being informed by an analysis of the benefit that investment brings to health outcomes or to an operational savings. A body of knowledge is growing and the evidence is compelling. If the return on the investment of a well-designed healthcare facility improves health outcomes while simultaneously reducing the cost of the administration of that care, does this not speak to the essence of health reform? If the discussion about health went a notch higher and it aligned the design of an evidence-based facility with a healthier/energy-efficient facility then we would also deliver fuel to the energy reform discussion. If we went one step further and showed how many healthcare facility building projects that were shovel-ready would benefit from this body of knowledge, then our nation's stimulus package would simultaneously stimulate health and energy reform by providing clear direction for the billions of dollars being spent on healthcare construction each year.

We are a relatively small group of approximately 30,000 people who strongly believe that our health system should do no harm by insisting on an evidence-based approach to the design of buildings that support the delivery of improved outcomes. Our premise is to tie an action to an outcome and design and build accordingly. When the topic of healthcare reform emerges in our government chambers, we do hope there will be notice of the work we are doing in evidence-based healthcare design.

We are well on our way with the investigation of what matters in the safe delivery of care and how the built environment plays a role. We have many facilities identifying the gaps in our knowledge base and committing to the diligence it takes to continue to conduct the research that leads us toward the best solutions. The Center for Health

Design is partnering with several organizations to implement tools to share this knowledge. Our field study research project, launched by The Center for Health Design and 50+ facilities throughout the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom known as “The Pebble Project” is committed to sharing the results of our evolving base of knowledge. This base of knowledge is accelerating an innovation curve needed to advance the delivery of care in this country and beyond. The Evidence-Based Design Accredation and Certification Program (EDAC), has been launched to identify individuals who possess this body of knowledge and soon buildings that achieve measurable outcomes.

So “yes we can” should be armed with an informed approach to changing the face of healthcare by making this world a safer place. We are anxious to see President Obama succeed and welcome his interest in our cause to “do no harm”.

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The Center for Health Design is located in Concord, California. For more information, visit

Healthcare Design 2009 July;9(7):10