It’s no secret that a well-designed built environment plays a critical role in keeping patients safe and enhancing the quality of care. Though there is a growing body of research that supports the role of design in health outcomes, oftentimes the research is very technical in nature and difficult for design practitioners to understand, interpret, and apply to their projects.

The research team at The Center realized that a major barrier to translating this research into actionable decision-making was the lack of design and evaluation tools that are based on research and yet are also easy to use and readily available.

And that’s why, three years ago, The Center approached the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) Foundation and requested a multiyear grant to find a solution to this problem. Since then, with the support of ASID, The Center has been developing a series of evidence-based interior design checklists and post-occupancy evaluation tools to help the design and healthcare communities better understand the role that the design of the physical environment plays in achieving specific and measurable outcomes in patient room settings.

The result of that work is three new evidence-based tools that design and healthcare professionals can use to apply research findings to healthcare design projects and to conduct post-occupancy evaluations of patient spaces. They’re focused on three acute care environments: medical/surgical patient rooms, intensive care patient rooms, and maternity care patient rooms. (Find the completed tools at

An interior design checklist helps design professionals optimize the design stage of a project, while a patient room evaluation tool can be used to assess whether a room meets functional goals and design intent. Each was tested and validated at various healthcare facilities and created collaboratively by The Center’s research team with the input from an international group of industry advisers, to ensure they’re user friendly and scientifically valid.

Also available are checklists of key behaviors that might occur in a patient room based on the various users of the space, enabling design teams to easily consider all facets of the environment. The checklists are customizable based on the relative importance of a project’s EBD goals and help users identify the available research that supports a specific design feature, allowing a comparison of design features to evaluate and select the best ones to meet project goals.

The next step for this work, made possible through funding support from the Donghia Foundation, will be creating a set of five interactive annotated diagrams of the three patient room types as well as medical office building spaces, retail health environments, and home healthcare spaces. These diagrams, available in summer 2016, will demonstrate appropriate, high-quality designs for each space and present design strategies that can be implemented to improve outcomes.

Debra Levin is president and CEO of The Center for Health Design. She can be reached at

Click on the links below to download each of these new resources.

Medical-Surgical Patient Room

Intensive Care Patient Room

Maternity Care Patient Room