Art and Healing in Healthcare Environments [Intro to 3-part series]

Thanks to the growing use of evidence-based design in healthcare environments, elements such as natural light, views to nature and clear wayfinding are becoming the rule rather than the exception in hospitals and wellness centers. Art also has an important role to play in healthcare spaces—reducing stress, providing positive distraction and promoting wellbeing for patients, their families, visitors and staff. Research even links art with improved clinical outcomes and lowered costs.

When art is conceived and implemented in concert with the design of the overall user experience, its power is amplified. Experience designers ask key questions: Where is the space and what are its physical characteristics? What brand message or theme should be communicated or reinforced in the space? And most important, who will be using the space, and how? How can we best meet the needs of users?

“It’s important to understand that hospital environments are places where people live,” says Lisa Reitzes, facility design project manager for Seattle Children’s Hospital. "So we asked, How can we use art in a different way to create environments that promote healing as well as offer calming and imaginative experiences for everyone who spends time at Children’s?”

In this three-part series, we look at three ways the healing power of art can be magnified in healthcare environments: 1) when it is integrated into the architectural fabric of the building and its wayfinding system; 2) when it is created through direct engagement with hospital users; and 3) when it tells a unique story about the people and the place.

Part 1: Integrating Art and Wayfinding: Seattle Children's Hospital

Part 2: Community and Storytelling: Antelope Valley Medical Center

Part 3: Empathy and Engagement: Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

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