December 2011
Healthcare Art Report


Experience is everything. It is the memory of an experience that causes us to think of people, events or places fondly or not so fondly. Recently my husband returned to the island on which he spent a one-year deployment. He said it was the familiar smells that took him back 10 years in an instant.


His recent experience made me think about my memories which include the unique sound of family laughter, the smell of the forest and so many more. This thought direction followed me to work where I thought more about the healthcare experience -- and how each memory consists of a combination of sights, smells, events, people and surroundings. Surely you know people who claim they "can't stand hospitals because of the smell." Or patients who leave the hospital and forget the high quality care they received, only to tell their friends about the terrible food and loud noises at night. Those perceptions are based on memories from a part of their hospital experience. For healthcare providers, it is becoming paramount to understand how the combination of all sensory stimuli throughout each patient's entire hospital experience affects them both as it happens and as an experience memory.


Old barns are so much more than buildings to me. They are the smell of hay, the sound of rain on a tin roof and a lazy, endless summer day at my grandfather's house.


How memory recalls the visual patient experiences greatly intrigues me. We know art programs have the ability to help enrich the patient experience. As we move beyond what Evidence Based Design teaches us, I invite you to join me in examining each patient's entire visual experience to understand how we can work together to design cohesive, memorable and stimulating visual experiences.


Artwork is only a portion of the stimuli that creates memories, Visual stimuli include all that is experienced from drive up, to parking to walking to the front door and once inside, exterior views, interior finishes graphics, signage patient rights, posted notices, light levels and more fight for our attention. Add to visual stimuli auditory elements including, traffic sounds, paging, keyboard typing, sick patients coughing, machinery, music, and or the pleasant or not so pleasant sounds of water trickling, dripping or running. Between just 2 of our 5 senses you may already be on overload. By planning and designing an experience that delights multiple senses we can create enjoyable memories that do not overwhelm any of our senses or confuse our minds.


Distinctive Art Source has had the pleasure of working with multiple clients, and their teams of consultants, to create patient experiences that include multiple sensory experiences and remain community oriented. Our challenge to the healthcare industry is to maximize the role artwork, and all other sensory elements, play in each and every patient experience.



Barbara's signature




Barbara Harriman, IIDA  

President/Creative Director
Distinctive Art Source 


P.S. Healthcare art programs can create an experience by telling a story. Download our free whitepaper to learn how

HCD11 Sets  Stage for Southeast Health's Cancer Center Story


Distinctive Art Source was honored to share the stage with our friends at

Southeast Health, Starizon and PNM Architects at the  Healthcare Design 2011 Conference in Nashville, TN earlier this month. The story we told was a powerful tale about life, hope and one Cancer Center's journey to "Design the Cancer Patient Experience."


Barbara Harriman, IIDA, President/Creative Director, Distinctive Art Source, presented along with Sly Moore, MA, MBA, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Southeast Health; Judy Aslin, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, Executive Director, Cancer Center, Southeast Health; Gary Adamson, Chief Experience Officer, Starizon Studios;

and Brian Pansing, Principal, PNM Ltd. Architects.

From left to right: Sly Moore, Brian Pansing, Judy Aslin, Barbara Harriman and Gary Adamson.


In a room packed with more than 300 attendees, the group shared the story of how Southeast Health and Starizon Studios created a unique approach to the cancer patient experience that individualizes each patient's journey while focusing on their life. Distinctive Art Source helped Southeast Health create a multimedia art program featuring local artists works that enhanced the patient journey through evidence and research based art selections. The program features 171 multimedia pieces of art that compliment the warm wood and stone interiors while portraying images with symbolic meanings that support the themes of Life, Hope and Journey.  The Southeast Health Cancer Center opened in February 2011.


If you missed the conference, you can still earn CEUs by attending a FREE Virtual Symposium this week! Click here for more information or to register.  

Healing Environments Include More than Just Nature

Nostalgic images of nearby passenger trains bring historical interest to a very public conncecting corridor at Winchester Medical Center in Winchester VA. Even during the installation views of all ages exclaimed their excitement and share their train stories with us. The amazing trains display breathtaking views of the surrounding counties while serving as visual remainders of days gone by while inviting viewers to come and enjoy the ride. It was a prividlege to watch and listen as this gallery of photographs by local artists drew people in and started conversations among strangers.


It's no secret that the selection of appropriate patient-based artwork can enhance the healing environment and offer the possibility of improved patient outcomes. In the early 90s, Roger Ulrich, brought forth the notion that is now widely accepted stating, "Scientific research has produced limited but convincing evidence that certain types of art can have positive effects on health outcomes. However, inappropriate art (including some critically good art) can negatively affect patients - especially those who feel stressed due to illness or injury."


Today, thanks to the sharing of evidence based design practices and principles, most hospitals are well informed of the benefits of incorporating artwork, especially art depicting nature, into their facilities. In fact, "evidence based artwork" is no longer a new buzzword in the industry - it's becoming the industry standard. Walk into any hospital built (or renovated) in the past five years and you will most likely find images of nature - from landscapes and shorelines to leaf motifs and nautilus themes. As an industry, we seem to have an understanding of the value of nature imagery.


There is more to creating an evidence based art program than selecting healthcare appropriate nature images for a facility. The element that is often overlooked is exactly how those images are placed - how they are used to connect with the viewer, tell a story and evoke a positive feeling.


At Distinctive Art Source, we work closely with each hospital client to create an art program that incorporates evidence-based design while enhancing patients, visitors and staff members visual experiences. Art programs do indeed include images of nature, but effective art programs have much more depth - and play a vital role in designing a positive patient experience. Facilities with effective healthcare art programs have several things in common:


  1. Vision: An art committee is established early in the design phase to create or continue the vision, providing direction for the art program.
  2. Commitment: There is a commitment from leadership in terms of staffing, funding and other resources to design a positive patient experience.
  3. Community: There is a desire to engage the community - both internal and external audiences - in the creation of the art program to ensure a dynamic experience by establishing long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationships.
  4. Culture: The art program is not created in a vacuum and thrust upon a facility, but rather it is a reflection of a culture of employees, physicians, donors, artists and community members who recognize the value of healthcare art programs and have a genuine desire to participate.
  5. Innovation: There is a willingness to be progressive in creating art elements that incorporate innovative technology such as digital art displays, kinetic sculpture and light features.


So take a cue from forward-thinking healthcare facilities when it comes to evidence based art. You'll discover that there is a remarkable difference between "healing art" and a "healing art program."

LakeHealth Shares Their Story in Chicago at Healthcare Facilities Symposium 2011


When Lake Health set out to build the 300,000 square-foot TriPoint Medical Center, they made a commitment to the community to redefine healthcare by putting patients first.  They achieved this by creating a collaborative approach based on guiding principles and involving key stakeholders throughout the process.    


The team at LakeHealth joined Barbara Harriman, president and creative director, Distinctive Art Source, in presenting their story at the Healthcare Facilities Symposium and Expo September 20-22, 2011 in Chicago, IL. Cynthia Moore-Hardy, FACHE, President and Chief Executive Officer, LakeHealth and Steve Karns, Senior Vice President Administrative Services, LakeHealth, joined Barbara Harriman in presenting "Integrative Design Approach Creates Cohesive Visual and Healing Experience at LakeHealth TriPoint Medical Center."   


For more information about the conference, visit Healthcare Facilities Symposium and Expo. 



What's Your Story?

Free Whitepaper: The Story Behind Hospital Art 

Art has the power to tell a story by connecting with the viewer and evoking an emotional response. Some hospital art programs tell the story of patients and survivors. Others depict the history of a community hospital or the generosity of grateful donors. Look around the walls of your hospital and see if you can find the story! For inspiration on how to tell a story through an art program, download our free whitepaper: "The Story Behind Hospital Art."


What's the story at your hospital? Send us an interesting photo of an art element at your hospital and tell us the story behind it. We'll feature the most compelling story in the next issue of Healthcare Art Report!

In This Issue
HCD 2011: The Story of Life, Hope and Journey at Southeast Health
Healing Art: More than Nature
LakeHealth Shares Their Story
The Story Behind Hospital Art: Free Whitepaper
Art and Artists of Note
Our Gift to You
In the News
Habitat for Humanity
Coming in the Next Issue: Digital Art Advantage
Art and Artists of Note


Visit these artists and explore their unique creations.


 Jeffrey Laudenslager 

Kinetic Sculpture


 Deanne Sabeck  

Light Sculpture


Charles Strain  

Bronze Sculpture


Our Gift to You 

Create a Visual Therapy Experience on your computer at home or in the office! Download this water themed screensaver with multiple images sure to help you relax and enjoy a few minutes away.


Visit our website for your free gift from the team at DAS!


CHD Receives IIDA Star Award


Each year, IIDA recognizes outstanding contributions to the interior design community and design world by an individual or organization. The Center for Health Design (CHD) received the 2011 IIDA Star Award. The IIDA Board of Directors selected CHD for their work in elevating the practice of evidence-based design, namely through the Pebble Project and Evidence-based Design Accreditation and Certification (EDAC) programs.

In the News:

Distinctive Art Source is pleased to share this issue of Consult Magazine, featuring some of the 171 multimedia artworks showcased in Southeast Health's new Cancer Center.


 "Peace and Tranquility: Artwork Reflects Nature Throughout Southeast Cancer Center," Southeast Health Consult Magazine, Fall 2011  


Thanks from Habitat for Humanity

Distinctive Art Source is a proud supporter of Habitat for Humanity both nationally and locally. Thanks to everyone who stopped by the DAS booth at Healthcare Design '11 and picked up a Habitat for Humanity pin, showing your support for our partnership with this worthwhile charity. And thanks to our clients who have invited us into their communities for which we have said thank you by donating to their local habitat for Humanity locations including:
  • Annapolis, MD
  • Rio Rancho, NM
  • Madera, CA
  • Virginia Beach, VA

Part of our mission as healthcare art consultants is to support the communities we serve through the development of long-term relationships between our healthcare clients, local artists and community organizations. We believe in helping to create a world where everyone has a decent place to live.


To find out how you can support your local chapter of Habitat for Humanity, click here


 Distinctive Art Source

Distinctive Art Source is a turnkey art consulting firm working exclusively in healthcare. We guide clients through the process of creating customized client focused evidence and patient based art programs.

Our goals are twofold: to introduce unexpected art options and to involve local artists and communities whenever possible. Distinctive Art Source's architectural background allows us to blend seamlessly into the design process, providing facilities with necessary timelines and budgets to keep projects on schedule and within budget.

Established in 2003, Distinctive Art Source has served a pivotal role in creating patient-based art programs in millions of square feet of hospital space. Distinctive Art Source connects clients with hundreds of artists throughout the country to enable hospitals to conceptualize, visualize and realize the goals of their art programs.

Distinctive Art Source
7900 Sudley Road
Suite 120
Manassas Va 20109-2806

Stay in Touch!

Email Barbara Harriman

Phone: (703) 956-1946

Bamboo Print 
Coming in the Next Issue:  

Designing Art Programs for Multi-Site Health Systems