It’s a daunting prospect to sift through hundreds of submission proposals in search of the perfect program lineup for the Healthcare Design Conference. When the Center for Health Design’s Jennifer Wilcox emailed me a 300-page PDF and told me this was my portion of the submissions to review in advance of our day-long meeting last week, my first thought was: “Did she say portion?”

In fact, she did—my stack represented just one-third of the submissions we received from architects, doctors, researchers, nurses, interior designers, construction professionals, and more, all vying for the roughly 100 spots on the program for 2013’s conference in November.

The program design team included, among others, officials from industry organizations AIA, ASID, NIHD, AAHID, the Center for Health Design, and the Corporate Realty, Design & Management Institute. We were all charged with reading and rating a third of the submissions before our meeting last Thursday in Concord, Calif., where we were then split up into three groups. Each group met to discuss and come to a consensus on its portion of the submissions. Then … we switched stacks with another group and did it all over again.  

It was a long day.

But it was a great day, too, because the depth, breadth, and overall quality of the submissions were really impressive, and enlightening. There were detailed proposals covering healthcare issues across the entire United States, as well as in Germany, Australia, UAE, Canada, The Netherlands, and Qatar. There were plenty of submissions dealing with evidence-based design and Lean planning, as well as post-occupancy evaluations and integrated project delivery. Disaster readiness was, understandably, a big theme this year. A focus on patient- and family-centered care was another common—and welcome—trend.

Although the program design team has weighed in and provided its recommendations, the selection process is far from over. It falls to Wilcox, Michael Raggiani of Vendome Group, and the rest of the conference education team to go over all the submissions with a fine-toothed comb, weigh the balance of content, fill in any gaps, and put the massive puzzle together. The full program will be announced in mid-April.