5 Takeaways from Healthcare Design

The 2013 version of the Healthcare Design Conference is now in the history books, and what a conference it was! Before we forget about this year’s conference and move on to 2014 (the countdown clocking is already up and working on the HCD Magazine website!), we thought we’d compile some takeaways from the show. The future of healthcare is bright – that much shone through at the conference, and things like evidence-based design are playing a large role in making that future more efficient and effective. The battle is not over yet, though. Check out our takeaways from an excellent Healthcare Design Conference 2013:

The time for change in healthcare really is here.

Steelcase Health’s primary message for the conference this year was that healthcare is in a time of rapid change and that the utilization of space can have a crucial effect on the quality and delivery of care. It is important, in the year 2013, to view space differently. It must be more human focused – focused not on patients and healthcare workers but on people.

It’s more than just the products, it’s the applications.

Much of the feedback we received from attendees we spoke with was how much they enjoy seeing application solutions and realistic environments at HCD, versus simply products and sales pitches. This year we tried to talk about how clinicians work and how information is exchanged between clinicians and patients, by demonstrating how we can provide experiences to improve that exchange. The message surrounding the combination of people, place, and technology seemed to really take hold.

The keynote speaker was great.

Michael Murphy from Mass Design won the Changemaker Award for his very inspiring and uplifting architectural work in Rwanda. His message is that the journey of the build (the actual building of the building) is very healing and just as important as the outcome or finished building. The mantra of MASS Design Group, founded by Murphy along with Alan Ricks, is “buildings are never neutral, they either hurt or they heal”, which epitomizes the pioneering efforts that create paths to innovative future healthcare design.  They work from the premise that the built environment has the power to better our lives, build communities and heal individuals.  Said Bill Coble, Steelcase Health’s Director of Design Alliances: “Murphy’s talk captured the essence of the conference, and demonstrated how important commitment is when you have a talent.”

Evidence-based design is no longer the future, it is the present.

While there is still lots of work to be done, EbD has come a long way. An EbD workshop on Saturday had a strong attendance, thanks to presentations by heavyweights such as Eileen Malone, Craig Zimmering, and Roz Cama. The 40+ attendees were able to really see the value in connecting with the Center for Health Design,  and were able to get great advice on mapping out approaches to integrating EbD into their A&D practices.  The breakout sessions in the workshop ran the full gamut, from patient and waiting rooms to exam rooms and even community clinics.

Evidence-based design has been shown to improve hospital environments in three key ways: enhancing patient safety by reducing infection, risk, injuries from falls, and medical errors; eliminating environmental stressors, such as noise, that negatively affect outcomes and staff performance; reducing stress and promote healing by making hospitals more pleasant, comfortable, and supportive for patients and staff alike. Get your copy of “A Practitioner’s Guide to Evidence-Based Design” from The Center for Health Design website, and start bridging the gap between theory and practice in the design of healthcare facilities.

Struggles still exist – e-boards vs. whiteboards, data vs. knowledge, patients vs. people, etc.

In his well-received keynote address, Thomas Goetz, the current entrepreneur-in-residence at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, touched on these challenges still present in the healthcare status quo. For example, a tension exists between hardware (things such as the building or the furniture) and software (meaning the people, emotions, and experience). Goetz said, “Healthcare thinks too much about hardware and not enough about software.” In the big picture context of healthcare design, he said the future needs to focus more on software solutions than trying to figure out to do it with hardware. An example of this would be instead of just turning off or ignoring the near constant beeps of medical devices, route the alert to a nurse’s pager, so in place of annoying a whole department, the right person is notified and can take care of the issue.

Did we miss anything major? What was your biggest takeaway from the conference?

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