I have just returned from our HEALTHCARE DESIGN.07 conference in Dallas, and am amazed at how many of us are working to improve an industry that is slow to change. The girth of the healthcare industry makes change difficult unless it has widespread acceptance. It is when we get to a critical mass that we take notice of an improved organizational, operational, cultural, or facility change that needs to be accepted. It is however in the journey of a few that build this awareness for the need to change that I’d like to focus. It is in their story that I’d like to challenge your thinking, to move from the status quo to the world of changemaking.

But what does it mean to be a true Changemaker? Each year The Center for Health Design’s Board accepts nominations for those among us who really have affected a shift in our behaviors, and presents the Changemaker Award at the HEALTHCARE DESIGN conference each fall. Past Changemaker Award winners have included Frank Sardone, Robin Guenther, Ann Hendrich, and Leland R. Kaiser (for a complete list, see the CHD Web site). Clearly this is an exceptional community of change agents that have moved an industry to needed improvement.

This year, Beverly Johnson earned our attention for her pioneering spirit in getting an industry to understand the importance of family in the healing journey of a patient. Many of us who have been sick or have nurtured a family member know, but why has an industry that is about healing been slow to accept such a practice? In the past world of efficient science, there was little room for emotion, comfort, and nurture. Moving from that mindset to one of inclusion of the needs of the whole person did not just happen one day; it happened over a period where a pioneer mobilized a group of believers and, using evidence, introduced into practice a productive and humane way to involve family into the care of all.

That pioneer is Beverly Johnson. Since 1992, her organization, The Institute for Family Centered Care, has been advocating the importance of the care of the whole person through the inclusion of family. She has reached many of the institutions we work for through her principles that are at the core of what we propose in evidence-based design—the inclusion of all who are involved in the process of healing. We now work with families in the design of our facilities and take great efforts to be sure their needs are met. It is for her persistence and success in making this change that we bestow the 2007 Changemaker Award on Beverly Johnson.

2007 was also the first year we honored an individual with the Russ Coile Lifetime Achievement Award. Russ Coile, a past Director of The Center for Health Design, was a futurist who made it his life’s journey to share insights with major decision makers in the industry about future trends and empower leadership to another level of thinking.

Robert Levine, Vice-President for Healthcare of Turner Construction, was an easy choice for this award. Bob has opened the eyes of thousands about the future trends in facility design. It is through Bob’s insight, passion for change, and connectivity that the message of measurable improved outcomes has reached far and wide. Bob will retire this year from an illustrious career that built healthcare facilities all over the world. It was Bob’s belief in improvement and his conscious efforts to be sure we had evidence to support our claims that made him the fitting first recipient of the Russ Coile Lifetime Achievement Award.

So where are you on this scale of change? Are you blazing a path that will someday be recognized by your peers as significant or are you caught in the status quo? I encourage you to at least be somewhere in between on your way to embracing substantiated change. If you can contribute to the body of knowledge that moves us to another level of thinking, you will be in great company as evidenced by the few we have highlighted as our Changemakers and Lifetime Achievers.

Let us know who you think is making great strides toward a better healthcare delivery system and has spent a lifetime empowering leadership to another level of thinking, hence making change! HD

The Center for Health Design is located in Concord, California. For more information, visit http://www.healthdesign.org. To comment on this article, visit http://healthcaredesi.wpengine.com.