As I was waking up this morning I was reflecting on what I wanted to share in this month’s column. I started thinking about the EDAC program that we will launch this fall and why we felt the need to create an evidence-based design accreditation and certification program.

So far, in my lifetime, I’ve been fortunate to take many “trips of a lifetime.” I’ve traveled to faraway places all around the globe and feel really grateful to have experienced firsthand many of the Seven Wonders of the World—from the mysterious Stonehenge to the mystical Machu Picchu. Anyone who has visited my home knows that one of my favorite travel pastimes is to shop. I love to decorate with local arts and crafts that remind me of these incredible adventures on a daily basis.

When I first started exploring the world, I was not as experienced in either travel or shopping. I would often come back from my trips with interesting baubles that were mass produced and not very high in quality. I was shopping price and aesthetics more than quality or cultural significance. Then there is the entirely different category of products that are knockoffs of things that we spend a great deal of money on here in the United States. The designs were the same, the colors were the same, the styles were the same, but the quality was something quite different. These objects may have looked good at first, but six months out, they would show their true colors and need to be replaced. Much of what I purchased in those days I don’t even own anymore. Pieces didn’t make the cut as I moved from home to home, either because I came to realize that they weren’t of much significance or because the quality was so poor that they didn’t stand the test of time.

I’m sure at this point you are asking yourself what this might have to do with healthcare design. The industry need for a program like EDAC is a bit similar to the learning curve I went through over the last few decades learning to separate the wheat from the chaff when shopping abroad and to discern quality and value over pure aesthetics or marketing. Everywhere I go, I hear about evidence-based design. Everyone has an interest in what the research tells us and is looking for a roadmap to make good, solid, sound decisions in their designs and building projects. But not everyone has taken the time to invest in evidence-based design knowledge or to learn the process. Many people have grabbed hold of the appropriate buzz words and concepts and have run with them, having nothing more than a superficial knowledge of what the literature says or understanding how to incorporate an evidence-based design process into their projects.

EDAC is a roadmap for how to do just that. The role of EDAC is to educate and accredit individuals on their understanding of how to base design decisions on available, credible evidence. EDAC accredited professionals will be able to demonstrate a clear understanding of these components and use an evidence-based design process to meet and/or exceed the recommended minimum requirements.

The goal of the program is not to test people on their knowledge of current available evidence, but rather to test them on the proper process to identify, hypothesize, implement, gather, and report the data associated with their project. Once an individual is EDAC-accredited, he or she will have an ethical obligation to employ an evidence-based design process in his or her work. This is a giant step forward for our industry, both as a way to distinguish design practitioners who have invested in educating themselves, as well as a way to help healthcare executives who have to make difficult and sound decisions on a daily basis regarding the built physical environment.

So keep an eye out for the new EDAC logo you see above, as well as the study guides that will be available starting this fall. Then take the time to educate yourself on the current research and the evidence-based design process, because healthcare facilities, unlike travel souvenirs and baubles, cannot just be tossed out if they are not exactly what you had hoped they would be. We’ll all be living with this current crop of healthcare facilities for decades to come. HD

The Center for Health Design is located in Concord, California. For more information, visit


News from The Center

  • The long-awaited book, A Visual Reference Guide for Evidence Based Design by noted leader in research-based design and CHD board member Jain Malkin is now available for purchase through the CHD website. This four-color, 357-page hardcover book not only reports the findings of research studies, it also connects the dots to explain why this empirical data is important and points to the implications for healthcare settings. Two themes, the patient experience and patient safety, are interlaced through every chapter.

  • CHD Board member and renowned service business authority Leonard Berry, in association with Kent Seltman, has released a new book entitled Management Lessons from the Mayo Clinic that focuses on how this complex service organization fosters a culture that exceeds customer expectations and earns deep loyalty from both its customers and employees.

  • Pamela Cheng has joined The Center staff as Marketing Communications Manager. Pamela comes to The Center from the hospitality industry having spent the last few years working with restaurants to launch new boutique restaurants around the country.

  • Callie Fahsholz joins The Center staff as Project Manager. Callie will be working on a variety of programs from EDAC to special grants. Prior to joining The Center, Callie was a project manager in the Environmental Testing industry.


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