Pairing Design and Data for Better Healthcare Systems

Hands-on experiences while studying healthcare design and emerging technology at Kent State created a unique, in-demand career path for 2023 graduate Hamid Estejab

“We call him the synthesizer,” said Jill Woods, managing principle and designer at NAC Architecture in Columbus, Ohio.

Woods was speaking about Hamid Estejab, M.S. ’23, M.H.D. ’23, who is rounding out his first year as design and analytics synthesizer for NAC, after graduating from Kent State University in 2023 with dual master’s degrees in healthcare design and emerging media and technology.

Jill Woods NAC Arch.

It was Estejab’s unique set of skills and the hands-on experiences he gained during his time at Kent State that captured NAC’s attention. 

“When we met with him, just in interviewing [him] he talked about his projects that he had done at school, we could see it and it was like instantaneous,” Woods said. “We just said, that's exactly what we need. We need someone who can pull those two things together. And he's so passionate about it, so, it's been great.”

Estejab’s ability to take complex data – which to most would look like simply numbers on a spreadsheet – and transform it into a sound and well-thought-out design has made him a sought-after team member at NAC, Woods said.

“We have worked with a number of people who were all about the spreadsheet and it's great information but getting it from the spreadsheet into a meaningful architectural project is a challenge,” Woods said. “So, having someone who can see it from that beginning point, see it as numbers in a spreadsheet, but understand immediately the implications in a built environment, I think [is] something very special.”


From Iran to Ohio

Hamid Estejab’s path to Kent State University began far, far away. Nearly 10,000 miles away, in fact.

Estejab earned a bachelor of architecture degree from Shiraz University in his native Iran. When he decided to continue his education and wanted to pursue a specialization in healthcare design, options weren’t available in his home country.

Kent State Graduate Hamid Estejab

The Elliot Master of Healthcare Design Program at Kent State University is a post-professional degree and one of the very few in the U.S. focusing on the design of healthcare facilities. The program equips students with the knowledge and skills required to design spaces that are conducive to safety, satisfaction and efficiency for all end-users, including patients, staff and caregivers. Students in the program are required to take elective courses from the College of Public Health, the College of Nursing and others, to create a diverse and well-rounded understanding of the field. 

The field of Healthcare Design is expected to grow over the next few decades as population demographics shift dramatically. According to the U.S. Census Bureau's National Population Projections, in less than two decades older adults are projected to outnumber kids in the U.S. for the first time in history. By 2060, roughly one in four Americans will be 65 years or older. This in turn will create greater demands for healthcare and assisted living facilities. Ohio is a pivotal state in this national population transition. It is one of only a handful of states already seeing more than 18% of the population at age 65 or older as of 2020.

aging population data
Data from the U.S. Census Bureau's National Population Projections


Connecting the Dots

Being able to help support people working in and using healthcare facilities appealed to Estejab as a vocation that would feel gratifying.

“It’s rewarding because you're not only helping the users of the healthcare, but you're also helping the patients and improving their experience,” he said.

Hamid Estejab at his office at NAC Architecture

Estejab started to see a correlation between his interest in healthcare architecture and technology, which led him to pursuing a master’s degree in emerging media and technology, in addition to his master’s in healthcare design. This is where everything began to click.

The Master of Science degree in Emerging Media and Technology enables students from diverse undergraduate and professional backgrounds to tap into new career opportunities. Students learn quantitative and coding skills for emerging media platforms, including interactive websites and apps; data-based analysis, communication and visualization; theoretical understanding of the relationship between the technology industry and society; and the tools for working in and managing interdisciplinary teams on interactive technology projects.


Award-Winning Ideas

Estejab was able to see his vision for integrating technology and healthcare design come to life as part of a $2.47 million grant project at Kent State, titled "Toward a Model of Safety and Care for Trauma Room Design." The project, led by Sara Bayramzadeh, Ph.D., assistant professor and Elliot Professor in Health Care Design, was awarded the Touchstone Award – Gold Category for conceptual design by the Center for Health and Design. It features an evidence-based design for a Level 1 trauma room. Bayramzadeh worked with an interdisciplinary team, including healthcare professionals from Cleveland Clinic, as well as Kent State faculty and Master of Healthcare Design students, like Estejab.

Check out this video of the Trauma Room project below.

In 2022, Estejab also participated in the Three Minute Thesis competition, taking home second place for his presentation "Enhancing Wayfinding in Healthcare Environments." In the presentation, he spoke about using data analysis, VR and biofeedback and overall design to enhance wayfinding in hospitals for medical staff and employees as well as patients and visitors, and why it’s important.

Watch his Three Minute Thesis presentation here.

 Words of Wisdom

When reflecting on everything that he learned at Kent State and all that he was able to do, Estejab encourages others pursuing a similar path to get out and network and ask questions.

“I think one thing that was really interesting for me and was really helpful and practical was having an opportunity to go to different conferences, make connections and be sure that what you're studying is actually how they're going to implement it in the next phase of your career,” he said. “I think my program, both healthcare design and emerging media and technology helps us to be sure that we have different connections in different firms in different industries. So, if you have any questions, you can just go ahead and ask them. Be sure that what you're designing is actually applicable in the real world as well, because in the next phase you have different challenges, so you have to be prepared.”

POSTED: Tuesday, June 4, 2024 01:51 PM
Updated: Friday, June 14, 2024 11:40 AM
Amy Antenora
University Marketing and Communications