One key to successful design is identifying a problem and solving it. For healthcare, it’s often operational challenges that require fixing—a lot of what you do each day answers goals for efficiency, flexibility, energy use, safety, infection control, and so on.

It was a topic that came up during the judging for our 2018 Design Showcase. We brought our panel of jurors together in Chicago this past spring to dig into the submissions that were named finalists and choose winners (for more on the results, see the August issue of Healthcare Design). Although there was much worth celebrating, there was one thing I and my fellow jurors ironically didn’t see a ton of: operations.

With a panel of professionals that included facilities and even regulatory perspectives, it was disappointing that our holistic jury didn’t always have holistic submissions to assess.
At times there were few notes of design beyond aesthetic and architectural achievements. Engineering, sustainability, resiliency, Lean design, and so on were occasionally mentioned but not stressed, leaving some wishing they knew more about how those basic drivers of most projects were answered.

Those that did offer that information, unsurprisingly, rose to the top.

I was thinking of this when I recently received an email from one of our Healthcare Design board members regarding one specific topic: sustainability. He stated that with so many organizations waving off the cost of LEED certification but allegedly still adopting the program’s principles, some aren’t actually following through. With the lack of review by a governing body like the U.S. Green Building Council, no one’s feet are being held to the fire.

It was disappointing to hear this perspective on what I’d thought were baseline expectations for most new facilities today. I had assumed that such solutions probably were in projects submitted to Showcase, but the entrants had simply not included those details. Was I wrong? You tell me. Really.

The goal of Healthcare Design is to be a source of insight and inspiration for all things design, including solutions that go beyond looks. For example, we featured a cover story in our June/July issue by Executive Editor Anne DiNardo that profiles the new addition to Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford—a beautiful project, yes. But it also includes some very cool green features. In that same issue alone we also touched on infection control, designing to support operational integration of behavioral health into primary care, and ceiling and wall systems.

It’s all design, and it all matters. We want to hear—and tell—the whole story. We need you to help us do that.