Throughout the evolution of healthcare design, architects, engineers, and planners have responded to significant changes in the patient population. This has included responses to changes in demographic patterns and the changing philosophy around care and treatment.

Healthcare environments have evolved as the demographics have changed. Our role as consumers of healthcare began when hospitals and healthcare organizations marketed to and sought our business. Over time, the new science of patient satisfaction was introduced, and patients became retail consumers of healthcare services.

Hospitals have also put an emphasis on documenting the outcomes of medical services to create a resource for comparing hospitals and their services. Healthcare has responded to these changes by adopting new building types. There have also been tremendous advancements in technology, innovative treatments, and care-giving procedures for specific acute medical conditions and diseases. Building types that catered to specific changes in healthcare and innovative treatments often took the form of a specialty facility that reinforced the hospitals brand and physical image.

The newest change healthcare designers must respond to is happening quickly. This change is the much discussed and analyzed emergence of the baby boomer generation into the retirement and Medicaid phases of their lives. We have all heard the staggering statistics about this generation and, make no mistake about it, this will result in an evolutionary change in the healthcare industry.

Over the course of several weeks, I will highlight different design considerations that address how design will be impacted by “boomer nation.”  There’s been a lot of publicity around this demographic, but we haven’t identified and studied the patient experience design criteria that baby boomer patients will require and demand. The goal of these subsequent blogs is to explore, discuss, and define this new patient population.

So here we are. The time is now. This demographic is big—really big—and we have very sophisticated tools at our fingertips that can help us design a patient experience that caters specifically to the rise of Boomer Nation.

Join the conversation and add your thoughts by tweeting to @boomerdesign, @LifeStructures, and @HCDMagazine.

Gary Vance, AIA, FACHA, LEED AP, is the director of national healthcare for BSA LifeStructures. Gary is a recognized thought leader in healthcare planning and design, providing hospitals with creative solutions to their facility problems. He also collaborates with various healthcare constituent groups to develop innovative solutions to operational, facility, and organizational problems. He can be reached at For more information, please visit

For more installments of Gary Vance’s “Boomer Nation” blog series, see the following: