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Illuminating IoT in healthcare with LED lighting

Modernization of healthcare facilities and hospitals poses a unique challenge. With multiple operations serving to support patient health and a large number of maintenance efforts taking place to create the clean and fully operational environment that is required of these facilities, there is a significant opportunity to attain greater efficiencies utilizing technology from the world of the internet of things.

Advancements in LED lighting and the integration of IoT controls have made it possible to maximize facility efficiency without compromising patient experience. As IoT continues to add increasing value within healthcare establishments, LED lighting provides an easier way to integrate IoT and networking, ultimately creating a new future for patient care, facility management and operations.

IoT and controls enhance efficiency for maintenance and energy use

Unlike their fluorescent or metal halide predecessors, LEDs inherently offer a higher degree of controllability, making it even easier for healthcare facilities to become more precise with their light levels, ambiance and energy consumption. Smart fixtures and internet-based control systems provide a more transparent look into facility operations.

Smart fixtures and technologies are capable of gathering information that is important to facility operations, such as wattage, broken and burnt out lighting, and other maintenance issues, all in real time and then communicating information to control centers. Furthermore, smart fixtures can be designed to work as beacons for IoT technologies, furthering their benefits beyond just energy use. They can be used to communicate other information about the room use or maintenance required; for example, when a patient checks out, the beacon can signal to staff that the room needs to be turned over. With all of this information sent back to the control center, healthcare facilities can be much more efficient, quickly identifying and addressing maintenance demands in a timely fashion.

In addition to the smart fixtures, LED controls have the ability to either be global or localized, which can customize energy use throughout the facility as a whole and within specific sections, rooms or locations. These networked controls can be used to monitor and manage operations of LED fixtures and adjust energy use to accommodate for occupancy, external light levels and time of day. For example, while external lighting systems may utilize preset timer controls to turn LED lights on in the evening when it gets dark outside, select locations inside the facility may run on different sensor-based controls that turn off or dim down power in rooms that receive less foot traffic when they’re not in use.

Catering to patient comfort with LED controls

The lighting in senior living facilities must serve the needs of both the residents and the healthcare professionals. Residents often do better with lighting that best reflects natural light as it helps to synchronize their circadian rhythm and creates a comfortable, low-stress environment. Simultaneously, visiting doctors and nurses need high-quality light to perform examinations and provide proper care for residents. Smart lighting controls are a critical component to establishing this balance while curtailing energy overuse.

LEDs are tunable, helping to adjust light output, brightness and color of the lighting, enabling healthcare facilities to establish an optimal balance between comfort for patients and usability for staff. In resting areas, for example, lighting may be warmer and dimmer to create a subconscious comfort as residents fall asleep while living areas may use cooler, full intensity lighting in waiting areas for greater visual acuity for visitors.

The tunability of LED lighting in regards to output and color can be used for visual communications with patients, signaling start and end times for routines and triggering safety warnings. For example, facility operators can set LEDs to illuminate gracefully from 0 to 100% over a predesignated period of time in the morning, acting as a wakeup alarm for patients. Simultaneously, for patients that may be deaf or hard of hearing, the color of LEDs can be adjusted to signal emergency situations or notify patients when they need to leave an area. If a facility is receiving patients into its emergency room, for example, lights may shift from a blue or white hue to a red hue to alert existing patients that they need to clear the halls and common areas.

Each facility will be different based on the health of their residents, and lighting controls are completely customizable to the facility based on current needs and the regulatory demands of the future.

LED technologies provide simpler benefits

Automation and IoT have helped to add a certain degree of precision to facility operations, increasing the efficiency of energy management. LEDs on their own, however, can better support the well-being of residents through their durability, longevity and cost-saving capabilities.

A simple shift from fluorescent, metal halide and halogen lighting to high-efficiency LED lighting technology with controls will, on its own, boost efficiency by reducing lighting energy use up to 65%. This coupled with the 100,000-hour lifespan of LEDs ensures healthcare facility managers less maintenance for their lighting technologies.

LEDs have become a clear option for facilities due to their higher-quality light output and longer lifespan, however, the integration of IoT and controls provides additional levels of ambiance control, energy usage and response capability to events. A simple change in lighting will create a more pleasant environment for residents, a lower-cost operation for facilities and a more informed place for managers.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.

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