The Center for Health Design’s mission is to develop and provide built environment solutions for healthcare providers as well as architects and designers, supporting the healthcare system we have today as well as re-envisioning what our future healthcare system and the facilities that support it might look like. In 2015, we’re more focused than ever on providing forward-thinking tools and resources to support our members and the greater healthcare design industry. We do this in part by creating dialogue among professionals via interactive educational opportunities, research projects, and regional member meetings.

In that vein, we asked attendees at the 2014 Healthcare Design Conference to stop by our booth and participate in an informal poll on what keeps them up at night. Each person was allowed to choose three of the issues currently facing our industry. Examples of some of the 24 topics include:

  • Decreasing inpatient volume
  • Reducing operating costs
  • Never events
  • Redesigning care processes
  • Reducing errors
  • Reducing infections
  • Perceived quality of care
  • Active living
  • Retail clinics/wellness centers
  • Patient-centered medical home
  • Models of care for aging population
  • Staff satisfaction, well-being, retention, safety
  • Noise, cleanliness, communication
  • Impact of technology on facility design

Voting was separated between healthcare providers and architects and designers. We uncovered many interesting pieces of information, not the least of which was the fact that the results were very different between these two sectors.

For architects and designers, their top concerns included technology’s effect on facility design, designing for an aging population, and reducing infections and redesigning care processes (tie).

Healthcare providers’ top concerns were redesigning care processes, staff culture and reducing operating costs (tie), and reducing avoidable readmissions and staff satisfaction, well-being, and retention (tie).

So what might be the reasons for these differences between the two groups? Is it simply that each discipline looks at the world through a different lens or is it a matter of finding a common language and understanding of the issues? Maybe the most interesting question is, “How can we build a bridge that clearly addresses these needs and provides tools that will help the entire industry?”

There were, in fact, some common elements identified. Things like the impact of technology on facility design was of concern to both groups, as was how to use the environment to build and improve staff culture or reduce operating costs. It will be interesting to dig more deeply and see if there’s a thread between reducing errors, redesigning care processes, and reducing avoidable readmissions.

So what’s the bottom line? Architects and designers have an opportunity to provide healthcare clients with solutions to their top concerns. Healthcare providers likewise have an opportunity to communicate with the design community about what they’re seeking in design solutions to answer their concerns. Here at The Center, it’s our job to continue to ask the right questions of a wide range of disciplines in order to identify the industry’s most burning issues and then provide an array of resources, tools, best practices, and research to answer those needs.