Name: Rosalyn Cama

Award: Most Influential People in Healthcare Design, 2009 and 2010

Then and now: President, Cama Inc. (New Haven, Conn.)

What she’s been up to since her awards: Completed several new hospital projects; published the book Evidence-Based Healthcare Design in 2009; named chairperson emeritus after serving 13 years as chair of The Center for Health Design’s board; and received multiple awards and honors, including senior fellow of The Design Futures Council (2014) and Three Wise Women Award from the National Organization of Italian American Women (2014).

What’s one thing about the evolving healthcare design landscape that excites you?

That health and well-being are becoming performance measures for which the emerging healthcare industry will be held accountable. As researchers and clinicians understand more and more about epigenetics—how our genes and the environments in which we live interact—the field of interior design will be called upon more and more, maybe even be incentivized to create environments that better support our lives, when we are well and when we are ill.

It’s an exciting time for architects and designers to shift our design practice hypotheses to include preventative care as well as curative care. I’m intrigued at how we too may become performance-based. It’s an opportunity to elevate our participation in these ever-changing conversations about the socially conscious return on investment (SROI) of our built-environment infrastructure. The health industry should continue to lead this movement.

What’s one of the biggest changes you’ve seen in the design of healthcare spaces since you won your award, and how has it affected what you do?

The awkward integration of technology into the environment of care. Although much effort has been made in the development of software applications, the failure to address the unique needs of clinical staff and their mobility as well as their personal human interactions with each other, patients, and their families has been grossly misjudged. It’s in the observation of this missed opportunity that I realized the fault lies with the missing kit-of-parts for these new technologies. There’s where the Cama Collection was born—we plan to take our design thinking observations to appropriate manufacturers and help to design for the gaps emerging in these new care delivery models.

What’s on your radar screen in 2016?

Clients increasingly are seeking good design thinking in the health and wellness sector. It’s such an exciting topic and the design possibilities have us researching what we’re calling “life indoors.” Americans spend more than 90 percent of their time indoors and the design of our buildings remains driven by a desire for shelter from nature’s extreme elements. Seeking this outcome wasn’t harmful when we spent the majority of our day outdoors. However, the field of epigenetics has shown that our environments impact our genes and our lives and so we must now think increasingly about whether or not we are creating indoor spaces that support us in a way that allows us to thrive and flourish. It’s here where we as health designers fit in. As we changed care delivery in the acute care environment so must we also change for health and wellness in order to design a better life indoors.

For more Q+As with past recipients of Healthcare Design’s professional awards programs, check out "Master Class."