I had a conversation the other day with a vice president of facilities for a large U.S. healthcare system and somehow we got to talking about evidence-based design.
"It originally was a marketing ploy," he said. "I kept asking, 'Where's the data?'"
In the early days of evidence-based design, there were some healthcare architects and designers that did exploit the term in the name of marketing. They didn't understand that it is a process, not a prescription.
I doubt that the facilities VP understood that either. His beef was with the lack of evidence, which, in the late 1990s when the term "evidence-based design" was coined, was only about 80 credible studies.
But, we've come a long way. We still need to collect more evidence that links the design of the healthcare environment to outcomes, but we've defined evidence-based design and established 8 steps. Not everyone is doing all 8 steps, but some firms are coming close. (Download the 2013-2014 EDAC Advocate Brochure from this page to see some examples.)
Questions healthcare organizations should ask design firms to gauge their evidence-based design expertise and design firms should be prepared to answer are:
- How many people in your firm are EDAC-certified?
- What are the eight steps of the evidence-based design process?
- Do you have examples of projects in which you've used all or some of the eight evidence-based design steps?
- If it's not possible to do all 8 steps, which are most important?
- How does evidence-based design and Lean process improvement work together?
What would you add to this list?
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