When the Supreme Court handed down its landmark ruling on "Obamacare" on June 28, 2012, pundits around the globe rushed into action to analyze, dissect, and otherwise comment on the impact the decision would have on, well, everyone. HEALTHCARE DESIGN was no exception, of course, as we rushed out to get newly updated prognostications from experts in the field on how the healthcare A/E/C world would see changes in both the short and long term; our sister publication Healthcare Building Ideas also participated in the exercise.

But in all of our analysis, one very large user group was all but ignored: Interior Designers.

Granted, in the healthcare design market, much of the interior design work is done by larger firms that employ their own interior design departments. Still, the lack of analysis given to this very significant part of the puzzle strikes me as an oversight.

So of course the question is now how will interior designers be affected by the forthcoming changes in the U.S. healthcare system brought on by Obamacare? And the answers are every bit as undefined as they are for the rest of the healthcare A/E/C community, unfortunately. But that doesn't mean I can't take a stab at some predictions. Renovations and remodels will be more prevalent than new constructions moving forward, and so we can assume some cosmetic "facelifts" will be in order.

If efficiency and leaner thinking will be the name of the game in post-reform healthcare spaces, the interior design will likely need to follow suit. Cleaner, simpler spaces could very well be the order of the day, with simple but elegant touches that don't overwhelm. As I wrote in an earlier blog post, the opulent hosptiality model seems to be on the way out, unlikely to return anytime soon. We aren't heading back to the instituional look of yesteryear — there's far too much evidence to prove that healing environments mean to much to outcomes to go back to the college dormitory look of the 70s — but I don't think we'll see hundreds of square feet blown on giant lobby spaces too much in the future either.

Will warmer colors start to creep in to promote movement and throughput? Or will cooler colors stick around to promote calm in what are sure to be hectic environments as everyone figures out what the new plan is? Only time will tell. But surely the healthcare environments of the next decade will bear little resemblance to those of the last decade.

How do you think healthcare reform might affect the interior design of our nation's healthcare facilities moving forward? Post your thoughts below, or drop me a line.