Interesting, isn't it, how separate events can converge sometimes to make a major point? Two such events are happening right now in the field of healthcare design.

One (we humbly submit) is the publication you are now holding in your hands. This year's HEALTHCARE DESIGN Showcase issue offers a record-breaking 142 entries, encompassing an unprecedented scope of facilities. This year's HEALTHCARE DESIGN review committee members (right) outdid themselves in productivity and discernment of projects worthy of citations.

The second event is the forthcoming publication of a report based on the research of The Center for Health Design called “The Business Case for Better Buildings.” This potentially seminal document, which is being published as the lead article in the Fall 2004 issue of the professional journal Frontiers of Health Services Management, is authored by a blue-ribbon panel of design and business academicians, including six members of The Center's board.

Final touches were being put on the report as the September issue of HEALTHCARE DESIGN went to press. Once the report is published, the movement toward better-designed hospitals will very likely have been put into overdrive.
This year's HEALTHCARE DESIGN review committee members with Debra J. Levin, President, The Center for Health Design. First row, l. to r.: Ethel B. Nemetz, Erika Jensen, Jens Mammen, Paul Nemschoff, Alan Mack, and Gary Bell. Second row, l. to r.: John Fishbeck, Karen Jones, and Debra J. Levin. Third row, l. to r.: John Balzer, Sheila F. Cahnman, and Elizabeth C. Brawley.

What does the report say? Perhaps you've heard bits and pieces here and there. Basically, it describes how the hypothetical “Fable Hospital,” a $240 million, 300-bed replacement facility, incorporated all the findings of evidence-based design over the past several years, with these upgrades paying for themselves in one year. Specifically, Fable Hospital adapted verified findings from more than 600 research papers in the field, to the tune of $12 million added to the budget. Within one year it had earned back $11.5 million of that in cost savings (from increased patient safety and reduced stress, reduced staff turnover, and decreased operational costs) and enhanced revenue (from an increase in market share and philanthropic support). These correlations are not made up—they are drawn from the studies themselves, survivors of an intensive, vigorously scientific literature review of thousands of studies.

Who are the authors? Suffice it to say that if better-designed hospitals really do emerge from the many billions of dollars expected to be spent each year on healthcare construction during this decade, the names of Leonard L. Berry, PhD; D. Kirk Hamilton, FAIA, FACHA; the late Russell C. Coile, Jr.; Derek Parker, FAIA, RIBA, FACHA; David D. O'Neill, JD; and Blair L. Sadler, JD, will be cited prominently, as will The Center for Health Design's Pebble Projects that provided much of the evidence monumentalized.

But where does the HEALTHCARE DESIGN Showcase issue come in? Just this: As you peruse through all these new projects, try viewing them through the filter of Fable Hospital. See if you can make the business case for what you find here. Decide whether the features highlighted might help your own institution financially.

This just might be the start of something. Perhaps, when the patients, hospital staffs, and business managers of the future find themselves enjoying their new healing environments, many of us will assert proudly, “We were present at the creation.” HD




An error in the May 2004 issue of HEALTHCARE DESIGN credited Bob Swanson for the photos of the Stanford University Center for Cancer Treatment and Prevention/Ambulatory Care Pavilion in the “Cancer Care in a Garden” Showcase article (pp. 62-69). The photos should have been attributed to Robert Canfield Photography and Bobrow/Thomas & Associates Architects (BTA, Inc.) Our apologies for this error.