Each year as we sit down to look at project submissions for the annual Architectural Showcase issue of HEALTHCARE DESIGN (published every September), I find myself impressed by the overall quality of the design of so many of the projects. It seems like each year the bar is raised higher and the quantity of projects that rise to these new creative standards increases dramatically.

More than anything else that we do at The Center, I find this annual gathering of healthcare projects and industry experts to be the most tangible way to see the progress we have made as an industry from year to year. It's evident in the depth of the designs and the breath of the project types and, most of all, it's evident in the comments made by our panel of experts, some of whom have been on the panel since our very first issue. They come each year with higher expectations than the year before. What was once innovative is now standard practice. What was once outside-the-box thinking is now commonplace. It's our hope that this magazine itself has helped in some small part to spread innovation through the industry so quickly.

This rapid progress is a success to be celebrated. But as we mature as an industry it becomes more and more obvious that success does not stop here and is not measured by aesthetic and creative accomplishments alone. How do we know when design is for creativity's sake and when design contributes to outcomes as a result of the environment? There is a place for both in healthcare, but as our economy continues to change before our eyes, and the pressure increases for buildings to perform, knowing how and when design can be used as a tool to achieve better economic or health outcomes becomes a tool in our arsenal that allows us to make the best possible decisions.

So how do we measure our success in the area of collective progress achieved by healthcare facilities today? Through individual research projects, The Center has started to build a database of individual outcomes from specific design interventions, but we do not yet have a good way of knowing how many facilities have implemented specific design changes and what overall progress as an industry we have made. Nor have we set goals for ourselves as a collective community, so it will be very difficult to know when we have even achieved success.

This is why over the course of the next year or two, The Center plans to embark on a project to create a dashboard of metrics that measure our collective progress around specific key end results that, when read together, give us all a snapshot of where we are at as an industry. Over time this information will help us to mark our progress as an industry, the next natural evolution from project specific outcomes research.

We would love to hear from you on this idea and how we can make this information the most useful to you. What key outcomes do you think we should be collectively measuring: noise levels, hand-washing compliance, single patient rooms, slips and falls? If you have some thoughts, please feel free to e-mail me directly at dlevin@healthdesign.org. Our goal at The Center is to provide you with what you need for success, and we hope you will continue to partner with us to raise the bar for the projects that will be featured in future Architectural Showcase issues of HEALTHCARE DESIGN. HD

The Center for Health Design

The Center for Health Design is located in Concord, California. For more information, visit http://www.healthdesign.org.

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News from The Center

  • Xiaobo Quan, PhD, has joined The Center staff as a Research Associate. He comes to The Center from Karlsberger Architects and received his PhD at Texas A & M where he worked closely with Roger Ulrich, PhD, on the first literature review conducted by The Center on evidence-based design research.
  • Jain Malkin, AAHID, has completed her latest book A Visual Reference for Evidence-Based Design, which is now available for purchase at The Center for Health Design Web site (http://www.healthdesign.org) The book features hundreds of projects and color photos and is an exhaustive look at connecting health outcomes to the physical environment. Look for an excerpt from the book in next month's issue of HEALTHCARE DESIGN.
  • The Pebble Project has gone international with Pebble Partners in Canada and the United Kingdom.

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