Health and health care delivery may be some of the most important issues of our time. In 2016, total hospital admissions in the U.S. topped 35 million at more than 5,500 hospitals (American Hospital Association). With so much at stake, health care facilities must be equipped with the right people, equipment and infrastructure to serve their communities and increase positive outcomes.
One of the many factors that contributes to the quality of care at any health care facility is proper lighting. LED lighting provides a superior alternative to conventional light sources in every category that is important for the health care environment.
Lighting is vital for accurate diagnosis.
Physicians and nurses consider the color of a patient’s skin, eyes and organs to diagnose conditions and track recovery. Thus, a critical quality of light in a health care environment is its ability to render the true color of objects, materials and skin tones.
The ability of a light source to illuminate the color of objects in a real or natural way, a quality also referred to as “color fidelity,” is quantified by the color rendering index (CRI). The CRI value of a specific light source describes how closely the light mimics the color characteristics of daylight or incandescent light, with 100 being the maximum CRI value. Higher CRI values indicate the light source offers better, truer color rendering. Lower CRI values indicate some colors may appear unnatural or less vibrant when illuminated under a particular light source.
Incandescent lighting and daylight are established as the highest standard in lighting color quality, with an approximate CRI rating of 100. (Lighting with a CRI rating in the range of 90 to 100 is considered excellent.) That means the color of objects illuminated under these light sources will maintain much of the vibrancy and color integrity experienced in daylight.
In the field of medicine, where good color rendering is a critical diagnostic tool, lighting must achieve the highest CRI scores. LED light sources are available with 90+ CRI values, providing excellent color rendering and a consistent and uniform color of white light throughout the facility. Better quality lighting enhances a caregiver’s ability to diagnose correctly in the first place, preventing costly mistakes.
The controllability of LEDs increases patient comfort while saving energy.
The controllability of LEDs and the controllability offered by conventional light sources are significantly different, and this affects patient comfort and personnel productivity, as well as energy savings. While incandescent, fluorescent and halogen lamps are limited in their ability to provide lighting that matches the energy-saving needs of a space, LED sources were designed to be turned off or dimmed without negatively affecting the life of the light source or the functionality of the space.
LED light sources are designed to dim, and they offer a broader dimming range than their line-voltage-driven counterparts, making them an excellent choice for patient rooms where softer lighting attuned to the patient’s circadian rhythm can encourage rest and speed recovery. As an additional benefit, when LEDs are dimmed to 60 or 70 percent of their maximum light levels, they can deliver substantial energy savings.
When comparing light source options for energy-efficient lighting systems, the controllability of the LED source is unparalleled. In fact, the 2017 DesignLights Consortium report, “Energy Savings from Networked Lighting Control (NLC) Systems,” estimates the installation of networked lighting control systems provides an average lighting energy savings of 47 percent (DesignLights Consortium, 2017). Coupling LED lighting controls with the frequency of use and function of a particular space can increase savings.
LEDs provide a cost-effective solution that supports the business of care.
In a health care environment, lighting is one of the most important factors that affects patient outcomes. LEDs offer health care facilities a lighting solution that provides more light with less energy, offers a high level of controllability and reduces the amount of money spent on energy and system maintenance. These significant and valuable resources can then be rerouted to support the business of care.