Welcome to the inaugural issue of HealthCare DESIGN, a partnership between The Center for Health Design and Medquest Communications.

This is an exciting time for our industry. We might be facing some of our most demanding challenges, but we are also in a time of unprecedented growth in the construction of new building projects and of building renovations and remodels. A decade ago, we were challenged to find products we could adapt to the unique needs of the healthcare environment. Today, we have available to us an unparalleled number of new building products, furnishings and finishes designed exclusively for healthcare. A decade ago, it was rare to find a healthcare facility with features that both celebrated the human spirit and contributed to health outcomes and the bottom line. Today, as evidenced by the projects published in these pages, the bar has been raised to a much higher level of expectation on all counts.

We have moved into a new era of facility design. Spending on healthcare construction is expected to rise from its current level of $17 billion a year to as much as $27 billion a year over the next decade alone. Add to this the declining power of managed care to steer patients to predetermined healthcare destinations, and the result is an environment where, once again, the decision regarding where to receive healthcare is back in the hands of the consumer. Healthcare facilities are already competing for clients. And, as the baby-boom generation ages, the demand to design facilities that can provide a leading edge to the organization will only grow stronger.

The Center believes that the leading healthcare organizations of the 21st century will be those that are passionately committed to providing optimal environments for their patients, staff and visitors. By doing so, these organizations willrealize sustained strategic and business advantages over their competitors. They will improve the quality of care for their patients; enhance operational efficiency and productivity; successfully recruit and retain staff; and receive increasing philanthropic, corporate and community support.

Whatever a healthcare organization's top business goals might be, a member facility will contribute to its success through the use of evidence-based design. Evidence-based design looks beyond what we sense to be the best solution to a specific design problem. It is research-informed, and its results affect health outcomes, as well as operations and patient and staff satisfaction. The Center, for its part, is exploring five aspects of evidence-based design: environmental stres-sors, access to nature, sense of control, positive distractions and social support. As you look through the images and read the descriptions of the projects presented in this publication, we encourage you to take a second look-to see beyond their obvious aesthetic appeal to examples of evidence-based design in action.

I encourage you also to look at case studies of other successful industries, as you create the healthcare facilities that will serve our communities for many years into the future. As Leonard L. Berry writes in his new book, Discovering the Soul of Service: The Nine Drivers, regarding the nine drivers of sustainable success in businesses, the central driver-values-driven leadership-gives root to the other eight: strategic focus, executional excellence, control of destiny, trust-based relationships, investment in employee success, acting small, brand cultivation and generosity. Great service companies build a humane community, says Berry, that humanely serves customers and the broader communities in which they live.

Building on Berry's concept of service, I urge you to think of healthcare not as a service, but as an experience. Stores like FAO Schwartz and Niketown draw customers through activities called “shopper-tainment”; shoppers can play with toys or shoot hoops or go to restaurants like Medieval Times and the Hard Rock Cafe that stimulate a feast of sensations.

Some healthcare-related examples of this come to mind. Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago offers patients oversized private rooms, hotel-like furnishings and art, and even a Starbucks cafe in the lobby. Houston's world-class CANCER CENTER, MD Anderson, has reinvented its dietary department as “room service,” available from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Patients' in-room dining orders are brought by a uniformed waiter within a half-hour. Sinai Hospital Baltimore's ER-7 offers a concierge service to aid families in their time of need.

We are proud to partner with Medquest Communications. Both our organizations share the common goal of supporting professionals who plan, design, construct, manage and influence new construction and renovation projects in healthcare settings. We hope that this publication will serve as a useful tool in your work, one that you will refer to often, whether it be to find available products from the Specialty Directory, new ideas from the featured articles or inspiration from the pages of innovative projects published throughout. We encourage your feedback, as well. Please let us know if there are ways we can improve this publication to better serve your needs.

Leland Kaiser, PhD, is quoted as saying “The hospital is a human invention and, as such, can be reinvented at any time.” We hope these pages will support you in your efforts to reinvent the hospital setting in the name of progress. HCD