As I was slogging through the tedious task of uploading the 300-plus Architectural Showcase project floorplans today, I decided to listen to one of a number of new healthcare design podcasts from the AIA.

I listened to the Relationship between Design and Healthcare for Patient Healing podcast, an interview with Gordon Chong, FAIA. He discussed findings from a research study called Multi-cultural Influences on the Design of a Healthcare Setting. He and other researchers specifically looked at the effects of light and noise on patient stress, which can lead to disease and longer hospital stays. The researchers monitored the patients’ heart rates over time as shifts in light intensity and color occurred.

They found that different spectrums of light (or color) affect a patient’s mood. Specifically, blue light will energize a person, while red light calms. It’s funny, because I would’ve thought it was the other way around, as red is usually related to passion, war, and activity, while blue is usually associated with serenity and peace. Chong suggested there needs to be a balance between these spectrums, because too much blue light for too long can lead to high stress, while not enough blue light will decrease the patient’s energy and possibly inhibit the healing process.

These findings back up the move toward more single patient rooms. Factors such as curtains, bed placement, light from the TV, and medication times that can occur in double-patient rooms interfere with a patient’s desired light intensity and spectrum.

Chong suggests more patient control over lighting, both daylight and artificial, and that facilities install technology that automates spectrum light change, which, he said, is already on the market. I think I need one of those in my office.

Has anyone had experience with these automated spectrum lights? And has anyone implemented them in a healthcare setting?