In June at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) presented The Center for Health Design (CHD) with its Star Award. Originated in 1995, the Star Award was created to recognize and demonstrate appreciation for individuals and organizations that have significantly impacted the interior design community and the design world.

I accepted the award on behalf of CHD and offered the following remarks:

“I am honored to be here today to stand before many esteemed colleagues to receive IIDA’s Star Award on behalf of The Center for Health Design and its CEO Debra Levin; COO Sara Marberry, who is here in the audience; CHD’s remarkable multidisciplinary board of directors; and all of CHD’s staff, volunteers, and supporters.

I am representing an organization that has and continues to raise the bar for design excellence. Design excellence, when discussed at The Center for Health Design, is not focused on fundamental design principles, but rather around measurable outcomes that are aligned with human behavior that ultimately illuminate design principles targeted as best practices.

You are all keenly aware that there are transitions occurring in the delivery of healthcare today. None of us are immune from entering into this vital infrastructure. Yet we are all potentially victims of its inefficiencies and inequities. Accountability for one’s wellbeing through safe and timely diagnostics, treatment, and care is being driven by extreme economic forces that recognize our healthcare system is inefficient and, in some cases, dangerous. In 1999, the Institute of Medicine issued a document “To Err is Human,” and it opened the door for a discussion at The Center’s board table around how design interventions play a role in the improvement of the quality of care delivered.

Now I can go on about how we approached that discussion, but what is important to note here this afternoon is how The Center has grown the acceptance of design as a key factor in the success of delivering safe, timely, effective, efficient, equitable patient-centered care. It has done so by having conversations with all stakeholders, not just those of us in design. Those conversations have been rich, and, at times, alarming, but they never begin with design—they begin with the improvement around an outcome. In order to have a conversation about outcomes, one must have quantifiable data to support an argument that there is a better way to deliver care and, hence, build a better environment in which to improve delivery.

It is to that end that The Center has built a resource available to all who ask. We are dependent on much financial support that is usually in partnership with our mission to research, educate, and advocate how the built environment improves health, organizational, and economic outcomes.

The lesson to take away is that design is a pathway that, when using an evidence-based methodology, can fuel robust and often compelling discussions about how to improve a client’s strategic objectives when clearly stated as outcomes. It builds a stronger discussion around how the investment in a proven design intervention—a baseline of data, if you will—cannot only improve that stated outcome, but also deliver a favorable return on its initial investment. You see, we then, as evidence-based designers, become strategic partners in our clients’ achievement of their long-range goals.

I accept this award with the hopes that those of you in other design sectors learn from CHD that a much richer discussion occurs when it is interdisciplinary and the topic is about improving the human condition.

I thank the IIDA for the recognition of The Center for Health Design as a resource, educator, and advocate, but more importantly for the lives we have enriched and saved through the promotion of informed and quantifiable design interventions.

The HEALTHCARE DESIGN.11 conference is in Nashville, November 13-16, 2011, if you care to share in our learning community. You can learn more about CHD’s services and evidence-based design certification program, known as EDAC, by visiting”

The award was presented at IIDA’s annual meeting in conjunction with NeoCon, the commercial furnishings industry’s annual exhibition at The Merchandise Mart in Chicago. It was a wonderful NeoCon, and I was extremely honored to see The Center for Health Design acknowledged at this event as an organization leading change in the design industry.

I want to publically thank all of you who have volunteered, contributing time, inspiration, intelligence, and financial support to allow us all to lead the way. Awards like this do not come without the help of so many. We share this honor with all of you. HCD 


Rosalyn Cama, FASID, EDAC, is President and Principal Interior Designer of CAMA, Inc., in New Haven, Connecticut. For more information on The Center for Health Design, please visit