Smart lighting strategies for safe, smart healthcare facilities

By Julie Brown / Special to Healthcare Facilities Today
October 15, 2018

Healthcare facilities must provide an environment that enhances staffs’ ability to provide high-quality care and promotes the overall well-being of patients. To help, innovative lighting solutions can play a critical role in supporting these goals. Implementing more advanced lighting can give healthcare facilities the ability to create a smarter and safer building while improving the patient experience.

Smarter operations with networked LED lighting

LED lighting upgrades are a common investment for facilities that want to uncover energy savings. According to EnergyStar, LED light bulbs are 90 percent more efficient, last 15 percent longer and offer greater lifetime savings compared to that of traditional bulbs. However, while facility managers recognize that LED is energy efficient when compared to traditional lighting, many might be surprised to learn about the list of innovative capabilities that can be built onto a foundation of LED.

With connected, networked LED lighting, healthcare facilities have the opportunity to implement a lighting strategy that takes advantage of the latest innovations in smart lighting to offer benefits to patients, staff, and visitors. With features such as centralized occupancy information, on/off and dimming, daylight harvesting to promote more natural light and scheduling, networked controls can increase the capabilities of a lighting system far beyond the basics. Imagine lighting having the intelligence to change settings based on patient preferences or change hues to create a calming atmosphere in patient rooms, and a more productive or performance-driven operating room. Some even use sensors and algorithms to learn facility or room patterns and adjust accordingly to optimize the settings.

Networked lighting can act as the catalyst for smarter technology implementations and can be integrated with non-lighting systems to help healthcare facilities improve the patient experience and outcomes, while offsetting costs of implementations. By connecting networked lighting to systems and technologies such as cameras and sensors, healthcare facility operators can benefit from capabilities such as tracking assets and people, analyzing space utilization and reporting on energy use and maintenance requirements.  

Centralized management of lighting allows automated alerts to notify facility managers to bulbs and fixtures that require repair to stay ahead of any maintenance requirements. Motion sensor-controlled lighting means that energy won’t be spent lighting unoccupied areas to reduce energy costs overall. This type of information allows building managers to go beyond simply using lighting for its most basic purpose to become operationally smarter and more efficient. For example, facility managers can analyze the flow of traffic and under-used rooms throughout the building to determine the best use of space in various parts of the facility. Taking networked lighting a step further, it can also be used to improve safety in and around a healthcare facility to keep patients, staff and visitors protected from the unexpected.

Improved security through connected lighting

While individual life-safety, security and building systems perform specific functions, one of the most effective ways to enhance overall safety is through the integration of systems; and lighting can act as the foundation for a connected, smart safety strategy. When safety and security capabilities are integrated with lighting technologies, they provide an added layer of protection for healthcare facilities. By managing multiple systems with a single point of control, facilities can identify problems, respond quickly and most importantly – maintain a stable environment for patients and staff.

By integrating cameras and sensors within a networked LED lighting system, lighting and cameras work together to determine and then illuminate the safest routes for patients, visitors and staff during an emergency. Sensors mounted on lighting fixtures can monitor building conditions and can detect fire, smoke, CO2, specific sounds and other hazards. If the sensors detect a problem or sense abnormal behavior, they can be programmed to trigger an alarm or alert security services to respond. Networked LED lighting with sensors offers 24/7 oversight and minimizes response time in an emergency. With this overlay of systems, a historically disparate lighting system has become a crucial security asset in protecting patients and staff during an emergency.

The same is true for exterior lighting. Most commonly used around the building premise to illuminate entrance and exit points, parking lots and walkways, exterior lighting can provide a physical backbone for smart technologies to improve safety for drivers and pedestrians around a hospital campus. Networked LED street or parking lot lights can be transformed into smart, vertical assets that use video cameras and sensors to detect unusual behavior, monitor the flow of traffic or identify hazards that impede on visitors, staff or patients. Analytics can provide valuable insight into how to optimize traffic flow throughout the day, as well as details on overall operations. Highlighting open and closed parking areas or available spots can improve the flow and efficiency of the parking experience, which is particularly helpful in timely situations or in the event of an emergency. Moreover, high-quality lighting provides better clarity for security footage and illuminates areas to discourage loitering and prohibited activities.

Rethinking lighting capabilities

Lighting enabled technologies are the foundation to a multitude of other integrations that hospitals, urgent care clinics and other healthcare facilities can implement in their smart technology plan.  A successful healthcare facility relies on efficiency and timeliness, while supporting patient well-being and enabling doctors to perform at their best. A connected lighting strategy which leverages innovative technologies can allow healthcare facilities to bolster operational efficiency, better support patients and doctors, and ultimately create a safer and more comfortable space for healing and caring.

Julie Brown is Institutional Market Leader, Building Solutions, North America, for at Johnson Controls

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