The healthcare world is specialized and kinetic. Today’s discerning patient travels the nation seeking the top doctor or hospital in a particular field—whether it is oncology, diabetes, pediatrics, neurology, or cardiology—all with the intent of getting the best possible outcome. 

Likewise, the healthcare design field is layered with specialties, making it a challenge for management to build a team of experts. Hospital administrators, facilities directors, and project managers are typically charged with assembling a design team of specialists also with the intent of getting the best possible outcomes. Today’s savvy healthcare leaders are requiring proof of healthcare design specialization and expertise in their RFQ/RFP processes, realizing a team that includes board-certified healthcare designers distinguishes an expert team from a merely competent one.

But where does one start to put together the expert team? The good news is that healthcare design specialists are easily recognized by board certification. Just as the American College of Healthcare Architects (ACHA) certification distinguishes highly specialized healthcare architects, the American Academy of Healthcare Interior Designers, known to most as AAHID, certifies highly specialized healthcare interior designers.

The requirements to become and remain certified are stringent, rigorous, and based on education, experience, and testing. AAHID designers are considered to be elite project team members based on their experience, technical knowledge, and connection with other tangible subspecialties, such as evidence-based design, sustainable healthcare design, and health and safety issues (including indoor air quality, patient safety, and infection control, to name a few).

When not designing healthcare environments, AAHID designers are influencing healthcare product design; challenging and changing the built environment to integrate innovative safety, research, and technology concepts; and creating and sharing healthcare design knowledge.

Recently, I attended a telephone conference of the Health Guidelines Revision Committee. This group is preparing the 2014 Surfaces and Materials component of the ASHE (American Society of Healthcare Engineers) Guidelines for Design and Construction of Healthcare Facilities. The brainpower in this conference of many AAHID board-certified healthcare designers was remarkable. These interior designers understood their roles as guideline constructionists and as a voice for facility safety, patient protection, accessibility, infection control, and complex, best-design practices.

On a similar note, AAHID was recently asked to provide board-certified panelists for the International Facility Management Association’s Healthcare Council programs offered in seven cities. The presentation, titled “Economics, Efficiency, Energy & Environment: Making the 4Es Work Together in Healthcare,” looks at how the best-performing hospitals are designing efficiency into the healthcare environment, generating energy savings, setting priorities, and measuring results. This in-depth knowledge base defines the board-certified specialists and the contribution they can make to a team of experts.

There are many leading-edge presentations led by AAHID board-certified designers at HEALTHCARE DESIGN.11 that will cover topics such as sustainable VA hospitals-a Green Globes study; measuring nurses’ perception of evidence-based design strategies; windows and daylight in medical workspaces—measuring nurses’ psychological and cognitive behavior; lighting Rx—uncommon design solutions for de-institutionalizing hospital facilities; and crafting the elder-responsive hospital.  HCD                                              


For a complete listing of HCD.11 seminars by AAHID certificate holders or to find a board-certified healthcare designer, visit the AAHID website at For more information on HCD.11, please visit