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Have you heard much about the Pebble Project initiative lately? Except for email notices about Pebble in Practice workshops, I haven't.

Back in 2000, The Center for Health Design (CHD) launched the Pebble Project to create a "ripple effect" in the industry by engaging providers who were building new projects to commit to researching and documenting the outcomes of their results. The evidence-based design process had yet to be formally defined, so early participants like Bronson Methodist Hospital and Clarian Methodist Hospital were paving the way for others.

Since then, more than 80 healthcare providers, vendors, and design firms have participated in the Pebble Project. Many have designed and built new buildings and documented and shared their outcomes.

WellStar Paulding Hospital, Palomar Pomerado Medical Center, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital, University of Princeton Medical Center at Plainsboro, Laguna Honda Hospital & Rehabilitation Center, Dublin Methodist Hospital, Peace Health Sacred Heart Medical Center at Riverbend are some of the outstanding projects to have been influenced by the Pebble Project.

Creating a community where providers, vendors, and design firms could share and learn from each other in small group settings has been the biggest value of the Pebble Project.  But times have changed, and I wonder if the Pebble Project is still relevant?

I'd like to think so. Because we do still need to add to the body of research that links the design of the built environment to outcomes.

Yet, these days, many design firms employ researchers. And, many in the field are using the evidence-based design process defined by the EDAC certification program. Still, it's the sharing and learning from each other that makes Pebble unique.

A few years ago, CHD re-tooled the Pebble Project, offering participants the ability to engage in a variety of ways, depending on where they are in their project lifecycle.  CHD's Director of Research Ellen Taylor recently gave me an update on what some of the current Pebbles are working on.  Here's the "Reader's Digest" version:

  1. Billings Clinic is in the process of reviving many aspects of its campus. It has completed per-occupancy data collection for both the ICU and CVU, where research is focusing on satisfaction, the impact of decentralization on teamwork and workflow.
  2. WellStar Paulding Hospital, which just opened, has completed a flooring study as well as a medication delivery study. It also recently completed a cost-benefit analysis of a specialty patient privacy curtain with respect to pathogen counts.
  3. Northeast Georgia Health System is preparing for its opening next year by benchmarking several organizations who have also recently undertaken an integrated interventional platform.
  4. The VA NJ East Orange Campus opened its new pharmacy project, where operational workflow changes facilitated by the design have significantly reduced wait times.
  5. Joseph Brant Hospital is in the early stages of its P3 process and is working with to define its interpretation of "patient experience," aligning evidence-based design interventions and metrics with its "Day in the Life" scenario to better understand how it will quantify its own progress and success.
  6. Parkland Hospital continues with its various research initiatives. It is currently conducting a wayfinding study, but is focused on its opening in less than one year.
  7. Adelante Healthcare has presented several of its studies related to control of the environment in exam rooms It has also shared its findings about the impact of LEED facilities on staff stress and is currently conducting a business case study.
  8. The Interior Heart and Surgical Center at Kelowna General Hospital has just documented its experience as the first project to use the Partnership BC empirical P3 evaluation that scores design features according to client goals and priorities. A monetary value is assigned to the score based on anticipated/estimated outcomes.

Many of these studies are scheduled to be published in peer-reviewed journals and industry trade magazines. So far, those have been the primary communications vehicles for Pebble activities.  In this day and age of content marketing, there's an opportunity for so much more.

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10 years ago

As always a great post.

Inspires me to think what is the progress on 'benchmarking in healthcare facilities' - dare I say I know very little about benchmarking other than its a hot topic in corporate facilities management at present.

Might be a topic for a future blog.

Sara Marberry

10 years ago

Great, idea, Michael.

Margaret Fleming

10 years ago

Thank you for the update.

I do hope, as always, that Joseph Bryant Hospital will remember that only a selection of patients can interpret patient experience.

Keep up the good work.

Sara Marberry

10 years ago

Thanks, Margaret.

Bill C

10 years ago

Thank you for the quality of topics on your blog, I couldn't agree more on what are other ways to connect, share and challenge ourselves. A great body of work that can be expanded on and help drive positive outcomes.

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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