Smart Lighting Shows Off in Patient Room 2020

Hospital bed in room with light fixture panel overhead

One of the primary features of so-called Smart Lighting systems is the ability to modulate color temperature of LED light fixtures. An RGB type LED allows for red to warm to neutral to cool white to blue spectrum illumination from a single light. This capability leads to interesting possibilities, particularly in applications where color temperature variations can be important.

Hospital patient rooms offer a perfect setting for using LED color tuning to enhance both the patient experience and staff productivity.

Prototype, Patient Room 2020 is a demonstration facility located in New York City that points to next-generation inpatient environments.

The most dramatic element is the over-bed cove lighting with 12 ultra-bright, auto-addressable surface mounted LEDs.  A virtually unlimited palette of color and abstract effects can be achieved. Visual interest and soothing color will, in theory, provide both intrigue and therapeutic effects to aid in patient emotional stability and promote healing.

When doctors or staff are in the room to perform examinations or other procedures, the over-bed lighting feature changes from soothing color to focused dynamic white light with the intensity required for safe medical care.

At night, red spectrum illumination can be occupancy sensor activated to allow staff enough light for patient checks without causing a rise in melatonin levels resulting in full wake-up.

Installed in the perimeter of the architectural ribbon surrounding the patient bed is an RGB LED string. Hidden from patient view, color changes alert hospital staff to emergencies or other conditions requiring nursing attention.

Even the nursing station sinks are equipped with smart lighting.  In this case RGB LEDs are used to help promote better staff hygiene. By default the sink lighting is red to alert staff to wash their hands. While washing, sensors in the sink track elapsed time and trigger the lights to flash green when the proper wash time has passed.

While some hospitals attempt to create patient environments that simulated the comfort of home, Patient Room 2020 uses a different approach. According to the designers there are several primary objectives. With electronic medical records (EMR) and digital communication between staff and doctors rapidly becoming the norm in medical centers, hospital design must accommodate technology without compromising patient and staff interactions. The prototype patient room is designed to integrate technological systems, including lighting, without clutter or patient distress. It’s also designed to empower individuals to control the environment to meet a variety of needs.

Patient Room 2020 demonstrates the power of color tuned, addressable lighting in LED based fixtures. It reveals many possibilities for institutional applications, in particular where staff / resident interactions can be enhanced by controllable wide spectrum illumination.

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Dave Burtner

Dave has been active in the lighting industry since 1994. Formerly a member of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America and certified by the National Council On Qualifications for Lighting Professionals, Dave now writes blog posts, lighting tips and provides lighting product assistance for the Topbulb website.