In this new series, Healthcare Design magazine asks leading healthcare design professionals, firms, and owners to tell us what’s got their attention and share some ideas on the subject.

Here, AECOM’s Sheila Cahnman, vice president, healthcare market sector leader, Christy Devens, interior project designer, and Mark Reckin, senior medical planner, open up about healthcare for millennials, branding and more.

1. Branding
It’s not just signage or logos – successful healthcare branding is creating environments that are compelling, memorable, and marketable like their retail cousins. Differentiation is even more important in this time when mergers and consolidations of health systems can befuddle even the most informed consumers. Healthcare providers must define their brands and reinforce the brand at every touchpoint with the patient, from how they deliver service through to the environment of care.

2. It’s all about me
You need to imagine the patient experience every step of the way. This includes the creation of virtual patients or “personas”to map the full healthcare experience during design. The design team sees the world through the typical patient’s eyes– by age, sex, ethnicity, and infirmity. An individualized approach may translate into a personalized welcome for each patient on a graphic display in the lobby, and music and imagery that are customized to each patient profile. You choose – Beatles or Mozart, Monet or Picasso?

3. Quick in, quick out
Patients are becoming more educated consumers – with easy access to information enabling decision making. Busy people often have short attention spans and want instant gratification. Healthcare must become more convenient and less time consuming.  The millennial generation – the healthcare consumers of the future – has been exposed to technology their entire lives and don’t expect or need human interaction at every turn. Home check-in, self-rooming, online medical records, and communication between physician and patient via email or telepresence are just a start.  And remember, patients can post instant public feedback on any perceived negative experience. 

4. I am woman, hear me roar
More women are leading healthcare organizations and more women are leading design teams. They also make most of the healthcare decisions for the family, serving as “the healthcare CEO.” How will this confluence impact facility design? Will women get it right or create the same old same old? There are some intriguing possibilities.

5. Healthcare is everywhere
As healthcare designers, we need to ask, “How can we design products and services that keep people well in their homes?” “How can we design our homes to be flexible, accessible and adaptable to allow individuals to age in place?” “Can principles of modular construction create in-law additions that are demountable or prefabricated, and incorporate technology to monitor health/wellness?” Technology can monitor remotely, allowing the medical team access and communication 24/7. What can we do as designers to bring the best healthcare home?

Sheila Cahnman

Christy Devens

Mark Reckin

Want to take five and share what's on your mind with our readers? Contact senior editor Anne DiNardo at for submission guidelines.