The HEALTHCARE DESIGN.11 conference kicked off Monday with a full day of educational sessions, exhibit hall hours, awards presentations, and a keynote presentation by Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, vice provost for global initiatives and Levy University professor at University of Pennsylvania, who shared his thoughts on healthcare reform and its subsequent effect on the future of healthcare design.

But before he took to the stage, HEALTHCARE DESIGN recognized the winners of its 2011 Architectural Showcase Citation of Merit: AECOM (Ellerbe Becket) and GBBN Architects for University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center, Pavilion A in Lexington, Kentucky; NBBJ for Seattle Children’s Bellevue Clinic and Surgery Center in Bellevue, Washington; and GBJ Architecture for Milgard Pavilion Emergency and Express Care Expansion, MultiCare Health System in Tacoma, Washington.

Also recognized was Gresham, Smith and Partners for Seoul National University Hospital—Medical Mall in Seoul, Republic of Korea, which won the 2011 International Architectural Showcase Citation of Merit.

Kourtney Smith, vice president of marketing for National Office Furniture next awarded the recipients of the 2011 Remodel/Renovation contest, published by HEALTHCARE DESIGN. Winning Best in Category for Emergency Departments was Shands Healthcare’s Shands Hospital for Children, University of Florida; and winning Best in Category for Respite Spaces was St. Mary’s Hospital.

Debra Levin, CEO of the Center for Health Design, next took to the stage, urging conference attendees to join in the conversation surrounding healthcare reform and share the knowledge they possess regarding the effect of the built environment on the patients they serve.

“Somehow in this next year, we need to join our voices in unison and find our way to that table,” she says. “Start that groundswell. Make noise. Be heard.”

Her comments paved the way toward the topic of Emanuel’s keynote, “Healthcare Reform and the Future of American Medicine,” during which he explored the dire need for a reform of healthcare in the United States to combat the ongoing escalation of costs that in 2010 totaled $2.6 trillion.

And while the debate continues regarding the Affordable Care Act, Emanuel says healthcare reform will be a historical event set to impact the world at-large. And innovation will be a key to its implementation—innovation in terms of creating efficiencies, providing the same service for less cost, and reducing infections.

Innovation, Emanuel notes, isn’t necessarily just found in new drugs or devices. Instead, it can be in the design of the buildings that facilitate those very outcomes that will become more necessary than ever. “We need to think of innovation as encompassing everything you do,” he says.