What is Evidence Based Design? Defined as the process of basing design/build decisions on credible research in an effort to achieve optimal outcomes, evidence based design for healthcare facilities is becoming increasingly popular. The goal is simple: To improve patient and staff well-being, patient healing, stress reduction, and safety.

Even as far back as the late 1800’s Florence Nightingale was proposing fresh air as “the very first canon of nursing,” emphasizing quiet, proper lighting, warmth, and clean water as essentials within a healing environment.* The same principles apply today with architects and designers focusing on things such as:

> stress reduction
> social support
> control
> positive distractions (artwork, music, entertainment)
> nature (plants, flowers, water, wildlife, nature sounds)
> efficiency
> workflow
> quality & safety

All of these qualities can be influenced by design choices that have a positive effect as evidenced by patients and families who have higher quality hospital stays and are discharged sooner by physicians and administrators all working towards improving organizational effectiveness.


The Center for Health Design, formed in 1993 with the simple idea that design could be used to improve patient outcomes, launched the Evidence-based Design Accreditation & Certification (EDAC) program in 2009. The program was developed with the help of more than 100 industry experts including Steelcase Health – an educational partner since the beginning of the program. Today the EDAC program is an internationally recognized program that awards credentials to those that have passed the examination in the United States, Canada, and other countries such as Denmark, Australia, Great Britain, Brazil, Turkey, and Hong Kong.

Why be EDAC certified?

Healthcare is evolving at a rapid pace as patients and payers seek improved experiences. Healthcare spaces need to keep up with these changes and should be considered an asset, not a liability. EDAC certified professionals understand how research has confirmed that spaces profoundly affect peoples attitude and behavior and can develop insight led applications that help healthcare organizations achieve their goals by leveraging the power of place.

EDAC is a known credential in the industry and today many healthcare organizations are requesting EDAC certified individuals in their RFPs when selecting individuals and firms for their projects. Many design schools are incorporating evidence-based design as part of their core curriculum and students are graduating with the EDAC credential. Currently there are 1,1694 EDAC certified individuals including healthcare executives, facility managers, contractors, engineers, project managers, clinicians, nurses, vendors, students, and others.

The Center for Health Design, Steelcase Health, and Red Thread can assist clients and A/D firms by providing EDAC study sessions as well as by providing tools to help with rethinking and transforming clinical spaces utilizing the principle of evidenced based design  for healthcare facilities.

* Source: Wikipedia