By Luke Connery, Energy Source, a division of Revolution Lighting Technologies
Hospitals and healthcare facilities are meant to be a place of healing and recuperation which is why thousands of dollars are poured into creating the best patient environment. Hospitals have the unique challenge of meeting very rigorous sanitation, safety and comfort standards which, if not met, can impact the well-being of patients and the efficiency of staff.
While the primary focus is on the patient, many healthcare facilities are faced with a significant amount of pressure to reduce operating costs and increase revenue. Simultaneously, they’re facing rising labor costs and regulatory changes which only makes the challenge of balancing patient experience with minimizing costs even more difficult.
Advancements in LED lighting and controls are enabling the modernization of these facilities while also cutting energy costs, all without compromising patient experience. As the internet of Things (IoT) continues to carve a role within healthcare establishments, these LED technologies also show tremendous potential, presenting a new future for patient care, facility management and operations.
Customizing Lighting And Patient Comfort With LED Controls
While most visitors may assume someone flips a switch and the hospital is lit with the standard, blinding white light that we’re all familiar with, there’s far more that goes into managing and achieving the ideal light output, which balances patient comfort with practicality. When it comes to adjusting LED diodes, facility managers need to consider what type of lighting will support the well-being of the patient and will provide the high-quality illumination medical staff need to properly administer the best possible healthcare.
Striking the perfect balance can be difficult however, as the light output that is optimal for our health is not always what we’re most comfortable with. Patients require lighting that best reflects natural light as it helps to syncronize their circadian rhythm and creates a comfortable, low-stress environment for rest and recuperation. On the other hand, doctors and nurses need high-quality light to perform examinations, operate and provide proper care for residents.
LEDs are tunable, which means they’re capable of adjusting light output (lumens) and Correlated Color Temperature (CCT) to modify the environment and better strike this balance. Studies have found that 6,000K-8,000K LEDs with a blue spectral focus have the best biological impact while 3,000 K - 5,000K LEDs and those that were closer to ‘daylight white’ were the most visually pleasing to individuals. Each facility will be different based on the health of their patients however, since LEDs can modify these features and creating the optimal balance between biological impact and comfort, they’re ideal for both current and future healthcare lighting demands.
Incorporating IoT For Increased Facility Efficiency
Controllability of LED technologies not only helps to create a more comfortable living environment, it also supports maintenance efforts. LEDs offer a degree of controllability and connectivity within their fixtures. ‘Smart fixtures’ and internet-based control systems or IoT controls can provide a more transparent look into facility operations which allows staff to be more efficient in their maintenance and energy management. For example, smart fixtures can quickly share information on operational status and maintenance issues throughout a facility, relaying information on LED wattage, broken and burnt out lighting and general energy use. Facility operators then have a better understanding of how the hospital or health center is operating, quickly identifying issues and addressing them.
To further fine-tune energy use, controls can either be global, tying in larger sections of the hospital, or localized to support individual sections, rooms and locations. Global controls can help with general energy use and can be as simple as adding a timer to external lighting so patients coming in aren’t at risk for further injury. On the other hand, localized controls based on factors such as occupancy, external light levels and time of day, make energy use within specific areas of the hospital or healthcare facility more precise according to the location needs. For example, select locations inside the facility may run on different sensor-based controls that turn off power in rooms that receive less foot traffic when they’re not in use.
The Standalone Benefits Of LEDs On Resident Health And Facility Management
Automation and IoT has aided in the advancement of precise energy savings and more efficient hospital management however, LEDs on their own have been a useful tool in reducing energy costs while enhancing patient well-being. These technologies offer a high-degree of durability, longevity and cost-savings. Since they require less maintenance and provide high-quality lighting longer than other solutions, the return on investment can be drastically shortened to only a few years for certain projects. The savings that pile on in the years following can then be reinvested into the staff, the facility and most importantly, improving resident experience and care.
Just making the change to LEDs from incandescent, fluorescent, metal halide and halogen lighting, can boost energy efficiency by reducing lighting use up to sixty-five percent. Factoring in the superior lifespan of LEDs, which can provide of up to 100,000 hours, reduces maintenance and ensures fewer replacements for hospital lighting technologies. LEDs also avoid use of fragile or highly toxic materials which is particularly important in a facility like a hospital where patient health may not be as stable. Their construction consists of durable materials that are recyclable, making it easier for hospitals to dispose of them when they are at the end of their lifespan.
LEDs are increasingly becoming the solution of choice for hospitals and healthcare facilities due to their ability to address the needs of both the facility and the patient. With higher-quality light output, a longer lifespan and various controls that further enhance the efficiency and precision of energy use and savings, LEDs provide hospitals with an easier option for cost savings. Changing the lights is a simple solution and without LEDs, hospitals could be compromising patient experience and giving up a lot money in energy savings.
About The Author
Luke Connery is Director of Business Development for Energy Source, a division of Revolution Lighting Technologies.