Those of you who read this column on a regular basis know that I am a collector of quotes. As I was preparing for our HEALTHCARE DESIGN.10 conference in November, I came across one of my favorites. I hadn't seen it for a while, but as I was reading it, it seemed especially relevant right now. It's by healthcare futurist Leland Kaiser, who is one of the more inspiring people I know. Lee said, “The hospital is a human invention and as such can be reinvented at any time.”

There are so many potentially disruptive forces impacting our world right now, from healthcare reform and accountable care organizations to the economic challenges we continue to face globally. We are looking at a wave of baby boomers who will be starting to engulf the healthcare system and, as drugs and medical interventions become more successful, an expanding array of care taking place in the ambulatory care setting rather than the acute care setting.

What better time than now to pause, take stock, and lend our voices as a community to the conversations about reinventing healthcare delivery? And, through that conversation, reinvent the buildings and spaces where care is delivered. But reinvention doesn't happen in a vacuum. It's going to take a community of various stakeholders who play a part in this work.

And that's what makes the work we do together so important. The conversations we have on these pages, as well as during the conferences and Webinars we produce in partnership with Vendome Group, LLC, HEALTHCARE DESIGN magazine's parent company, have never been about designers and architects talking to designers and architects. Our vision at The Center for Health Design has always been to be an umbrella for all to gather under, to bring disparate groups of people together, and to learn from one another-all while creating a strong and vibrant community.

And that's why we engage so many professional organizations to lend their hand in pulling together the HEALTHCARE DESIGN conference program. In addition to The Center and the American Institute of Architects/Academy of Architecture for Health (AIA/AAH), volunteers from the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), American Academy of Healthcare Interior Designers (AAHID), International Interior Design Association (IIDA), American College of Healthcare Architects (ACHA), and International Facility Management Association (IFMA) all participate on the program advisory board.

Their efforts to create a broad program with enough diversity for all to find value have paid off. Attendance at conference this year was at its highest level ever with approximately 3,700 attendees from around the world.

As I go out and meet with people, attend other conferences, and talk with folks on the phone, I have been feeling a renewed sense of optimism as I hear details about projects that had been on hold for the last few years finally moving forward or new projects that are just starting up. But without a doubt, our industry has undergone a fundamental change, and all of us have evolved, adapted, and changed with it. And that's why we are still here.

But clearly there is more change to come.

What better tools to manage change and reinvent the future than knowledge, vision, and a strong community of peer support? But in these challenging times, how do you gain access to knowledge that will help you take that extra step? How do you create community when you feel isolated by your daily “to do” list? Here are some ideas:

  • When you can, attend a national conference, or local seminars and Webinars when travel dollars are not as plentiful.
  • Seek out the professional organizations and nonprofits that support our industry, such as the AIA/AAH, ASID, IFMA, ACHA, AAHID, and IIDA, as well as Planetree, The Institute for Family-Centered Care, Healthcare Without Harm, and the Healthier Hospitals Initiative. Each has a unique set of tools and resources that are available to you. Get to know organizations you may not normally come in contact with.
  • Visit The Center's new Web site at The new site was designed to be an expanding resource for those involved in creating healthcare facilities.
  • Join one of the many LinkedIn or Facebook communities that have popped up in our industry. There are many to choose from.

And remember the words of Lee Kaiser, “The hospital is a human invention and as such can be reinvented at any time.” And in my opinion, it will be done by people just like you. HCD

Debra J. Levin is president and CEO of The Center for Health Design in Concord, California. Follow her on Twitter

@CHD_DebraLevin Healthcare Design 2011 February;11(2):8