Healthcare Design - August 2016 - 28


C THE CENTER | 08.16
Asking the right questions
As the healthcare industry turns a corner, designers and providers have
new challenges to face and new issues to consider By Debra Levin
So much of our days are spent problem-solving.
From the large to the small, we jump from challenge to challenge, looking for unique, creative,
and innovative solutions to the issue at hand.
Problem-solving involves critical thinking, analytical skills, and creativity, all in equal measure. And
the answer that seems best at first blush might
not hold up to scrutiny as you analyze the potential pitfalls.
At The Center, we spend a lot of time problemsolving in teams, discussing new programs to
support our mission, new revenue streams to
support our margin, or ways we can work smarter
to combat an ever-growing workload. Years ago, I
realized that getting the best potential solution to
a challenge is as much a function of the questions
you ask yourself as it is the quality of the thinking
that goes into the solution. You can spin your
wheels for a very long time and get to an answer
that, in the end, does little to solve your real problem, if either (a) you've been asking yourself the
wrong question throughout the process or
(b) you've been solving the wrong problem.
As Winton Churchill said when England was
starting to rebuild after the damages of World
War II, "We shape our buildings and thereafter they shape us." He realized that they had a
once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build a country
that represented their values and supported their
citizens.
I recently came across a quote from theoretical
physicist John Wheeler. Wheeler, a professor at
Princeton University, works in the world of what
cannot be seen. He said, "We shape the world
by the questions we ask." In the same way that
Churchill realized the importance of architecture
to shape the behaviors of individuals and thus
society, Wheeler saw that the questions we ask
ourselves individually have a direct connection to
the quality of the solutions we arrive at-which, in
turn, impacts the society we live in collectively.
As the designers and leaders of the buildings
that shape our nation's future health, we have
a responsibility to spend the time it takes to get
the questions right. That time spent up front can
ensure that we're using our resources to solve the
right problems and not squandering rare opportunities. We've entered a conversation that looks
at much larger issues than the health of each indi28

HCDmagazine.com 08.16

vidual, putting a spotlight on population health.
Our community of designers is a vital part of
that conversation.

We have a responsibility to spend the time it
takes to get the questions right if we want to find
the right solutions.
The walls of traditional healthcare settings are
continuing to come down and the impact of the
built environment is reaching deeper and deeper
into our communities. There seems to be a
new vitality in healthcare that's emerging after
many years of disruption. I've been in meetings
recently with senior-level facility executives, all
sharing news from their health systems. Unanimously, there was optimism.
It's a new world order from a decade ago, but
there's reason to be excited about the future.
Resources are available again for new buildings
to be designed, new markets are being created
as the definition of what exemplifies a healthcare setting continues to expand, and we're all
more resilient now, having weathered a decade
of uncertainty. We spent the time educating
ourselves, learning how to be more resourceful,
and creating deeper relationships with colleagues. As new opportunities arise, we have to
resolve to ask ourselves the right questions to
build the best possible healthcare system and
the buildings that will support it for decades to
come. HCD
Debra Levin is president and CEO of The Center
for Health Design. She can be reached at dlevin@
healthdesign.org.

Debra Levin


http://www.HCDmagazine.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Healthcare Design - August 2016

Healthcare Design - August 2016
Contents
hcdmagazine.com
Editorial
Show Talk
Monitor
Product Spotlight: Waiting Areas
The Center
Forward Thinkers
Charting a New Course
Whole in One
In the City
Research
First Look
Healthcare Design - August 2016 - Healthcare Design - August 2016
Healthcare Design - August 2016 - Cover2
Healthcare Design - August 2016 - 1
Healthcare Design - August 2016 - Contents
Healthcare Design - August 2016 - 3
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Healthcare Design - August 2016 - 5
Healthcare Design - August 2016 - hcdmagazine.com
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Healthcare Design - August 2016 - Editorial
Healthcare Design - August 2016 - 9
Healthcare Design - August 2016 - Show Talk
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Healthcare Design - August 2016 - Monitor
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Healthcare Design - August 2016 - Product Spotlight: Waiting Areas
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Healthcare Design - August 2016 - The Center
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Healthcare Design - August 2016 - Forward Thinkers
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Healthcare Design - August 2016 - Charting a New Course
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Healthcare Design - August 2016 - Whole in One
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Healthcare Design - August 2016 - In the City
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Healthcare Design - August 2016 - Research
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Healthcare Design - August 2016 - First Look
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Healthcare Design - August 2016 - Cover3
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