Improving Patient Wellness

PAE is using design to improve patient experience.

PAE is using cutting edge technologies and research on the impacts of electric lighting in healthcare facilities to improve healing outcomes for patients and staff performance. Our designs utilize lighting color and its effect on sleep patterns, circadian rhythms, and staff alertness to improve patient experience and wellness.

Any kind of light can suppress melatonin production and affect the body’s circadian rhythm, but certain wavelengths of blue light are the most impactful. For healthcare projects with inpatient units, PAE’s lighting design focuses on tuning our systems to control this blue wavelength in the electric light as well as the overall light level during the evening and night. The result is a “warmer” lighting design that has the added benefit of extending a more hospitable or “cozy” feeling to the space. During the day, patient rooms should have access to daylight, this allows occupants to access natural blue light and helps control circadian rhythms. Conversely, for staff and shift workers who should be alert and on their “day” cycle while working during the evening or night, PAE has designed a lighting solution with a slightly more blue color in staff work areas. Care is also taken to provide lighting used for examination with a high color rendering index for more accurate diagnosis. Overall feedback from patients and staff on this approach has been overwhelmingly positive.

PAE recently partnered with Mahlum Architects to redesign some older patient rooms at OHSU that do not have access to daylight. An artificial “skylight” was created for each of these rooms with indirect, color changing LED fixtures that run through a cycle program, starting with purple/red/orange in the morning to simulate sunrise, gradually shifting to a warm white in the morning, changing to a cool blue light for midday, then reversing the cycle back to sunset. This gives patients a dose of blue light for circadian cycles and also provides the psychological benefit of the perception of having access to daylight and the rhythm of the outside world. Occupants and staff have been very happy with this solution and OHSU is considering implementing it elsewhere in the hospital.