In the healthcare design world, we are living in what a Chinese philosopher once called “interesting times”—and pronounced them a “curse.” There is no question that “interesting times” are characterized by a host of new ideas, of new ways of doing things. And the excitement of all this can be a little too much for those having a stake in the old ways, hence the Chinese curse. But for those who believe in progress (or, in today's jargon, “quality improvement”), new ideas can show the way.

Two examples of this are on display in this issue of HEALTHCARE DESIGN. In “Four Takes on Planning” (p. 35), leading healthcare designers, planners, and operators explore today's evolution of planning and programming in this field. All offer unique perspectives, but if there is one common theme, it is multidisciplinary integration. The essential point is that ambitious and expensive healthcare design projects can no longer afford the “one-man shows” or balkanized departmental politics of yesteryear. Input must come from all quarters involved, and all must eventually focus on the institution's central mission: delivering patient care effectively and efficiently. When that happens, things change.

To wit, a sample quote (from David F. Chambers, Director of Planning, Architecture & Design, Facility Planning and Development, Sutter Health, Sacramento, Calif.): “By putting representatives of many related services together and visualizing the current state of operations, and then visualizing how we might work if the walls didn't get in our way, we have been able to envision powerful, consensus-based process optimizations that transcend departmental barriers.”

Interest piqued? How about this: Gary Adamson of Starizon, a Keystone, Colorado–based Experience Design center, begins his discussion of “Beyond the Architecture: Five Lessons From the Experience Economy” (p. 20) by asserting that people today expect much more from their buildings than receiving basic services and procedures within them; they want to go through a powerfully affecting experience. Sample quote: “It is no longer enough for our buildings to more beautifully or more efficiently house something old; they must more meaningfully and memorably enable something new. And if our buildings are to be the new stages upon which the new experience offerings are performed, then it follows that the tried-and-true wisdom of ‘form follows function’ must be expanded. In fact, form follows function and function must follow experience.”

Refocusing the healthcare planning process and turning it upside down; incorporating elements of show business in hospital design—ideas like these are exciting and, yes, unsettling. HEALTHCARE DESIGN looks forward to publishing more such ideas as our interesting times unfold. HD