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hospital design

Is the Mayo Clinic, the number one hospital on U.S. News & World Report's 2018-2019 honor roll, also the number one in hospital design?

That was the question I asked my LinkedIn followers when I shared the link to the best hospitals rankings this week. Mayo has pretty nice facilities, but I'm not sure I'd rank them number one in hospital design.

It prompted Andrew M. Ibrahim, M.D., MSc, Chief Medical Officer at HOK and House Staff Surgeon at the University of Michigan to comment:

...is there a "design" ranking for hospitals? Provocative to contrast them. My friends work at U.S. NEWS in the hospital ranking section...they're actually pretty thoughtful and reasonable. If there is a way to "measure" hospital design quality (a bit of a holy grail, I think), we should encourage them to use it.

Well no, Andrew, there isn't a design ranking for hospitals. But thanks for asking the question.

The closest we come to this are design competitions and most beautiful hospital lists -- most of which are selective and subjective.

I Went to Washington

And actually, almost 25 years ago, Wayne Ruga, the founding president of The Center for Health Design and I paid a visit to the editors at U.S. News & World Report to talk about how to incorporate the design of the physical environment into their rankings.

What we found out was that except for a reputational survey of physicians, all the data they use for their rankings are publicly available. Data on things like death rates, readmissions, safety, etc.

But they were open to including the design of the physical environment as a factor if we could provide them with comprehensive data on America's hospitals.

That became the motivation for The Center's first literature review of research studies that linked the design of the physical environment to outcomes. Which led to the formal definition of evidence-based design, Pebble Project research initiative, launch of the EDAC certification program, and much more.

No Aggregate Data Yet for Hospital Design

But nowhere along the line have we come up with aggregate data on the design of the physical environment of America's hospitals that we can take to U.S. News and World Report's editors.

I'm not even sure that is possible.

But what if we developed a survey based on the top design features that should be in every hospital and sent it to patients and staff at all 5,000+ U.S. hospitals?  Things that could be easily observed, like:

  1. Access to natural light
  2. Private patient rooms
  3. Positive distractions, like artwork, music, nature
  4. Space for family members
  5. Respite areas for staff
  6. Quietness of the environment

Of course, we'd need to find someone with deep pockets to fund such a research project. Who would that be? A foundation? Big corporation? An association?

7 Million and Counting

How about design professionals?  I just did a search on LinkedIn for people in the U.S. who are in the hospital/healthcare and architecture/planning industries.

There are almost 7 million of you.  If you all (or just 10% of you) donated a dollar, we'd have more than enough to do the survey.

Who wants to start that crowdfunding effort?

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Sara Marberry_013-Retouched-New copy

What's my story? I'm a healthcare and senior living design knowledge expert who writes and speaks frequently about trends and issues affecting these two industries. I'm also a strategic marketing consultant and content creator, working with companies and organizations who want to improve the quality of healthcare and senior living through the design of the physical environment. You can reach me at .

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