Apart from homes and offices, smart LED lighting can also be used in healthcare facilities. ITRI has developed a metamerism-based ergonomic lighting technology, a light therapy system, and a visible light positioning system to create a more efficient work environment for hospitals and improve healthcare quality. Field experiments were conducted in Hsinchu Branch of Taipei Veterans General Hospital, using LED lighting to moderate human circadian rhythm and improve sleep quality. Moreover, a positioning system was incorporated to locate the positions of medical equipment and devices throughout the hospital to make inventory taking easier at shift changes. See below for more detailed description.
ITRI worked with Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Hsinchu Branch on using smart LED lighting in healthcare applications.
This technology enables the adjustment of metameric lighting to suppress or stimulate melatonin secretion, and, in turn, improve sleep quality. Nursing practitioners in hospitals usually work in shifts, including night and graveyard shifts, which leads to circadian rhythm disruptions and sleep disorders. This ergonomic lighting system, without changing the light color temperature, is able to adjust light wavelengths accordingly to affect melatonin secretion among health workers. The result showed that the percentage of deep sleep increased from 8% to 25% among those who took on night shifts while the number for those who took on graveyard shifts rose from 12% to 17%.
Studies have demonstrated phototherapy’s effectiveness in treating depressive disorders, especially in regions of higher latitudes where there is less sunlight. ITRI has identified a range of light spectrum that is effective in improving sleep quality based on normal sleep cycles, customizing optimal metameric wavelengths for individuals. In November 2019, Hsinchu Branch of Taipei Veterans General Hospital introduced this light therapy system in its chronic inpatient psychiatric service. A total of 30 patients received all-day phototherapy for 56 days, with lighting wavelengths and color temperatures adjusted according to subjects’ daily routine. The study showed that each treated patient’s daily sleep hours increased by one hour and ten minutes in average and there was an average increase of 49.6 pg/ml in melatonin concentration. Moreover, the result indicated that the scores evaluating severity of psychiatric disorders improved by 38%.
Seeing that Visible Light Communication (VLC) features high directivity, high security and high bandwidth, ITRI uses VLC to build a positioning system for hospitals. By installing receivers on medical equipment, the location and movement of every item can be tracked wherever LED lighting is accessible and the position information can be displayed on a computer screen. Such a technology is able to conserve energy and ensure high-speed information transmission and network communications safety. The position error can be limited within 30 cm, and signal drifts that are common in indoor positioning can be prevented. Taking inventory at shift changes used to take 30-60 minutes; now it can be completed in 10 minutes with 100% accuracy, significantly shortening the time spent for shift handover.
According to Dr. Chih-I Wu, ITRI’s Vice President and General Director of Electronic and Optoelectronic System Research Laboratories, to enhance the value of innovative lighting technologies in healthcare, ITRI has connected industry partners such as Unitech, Tyntek, and Avertronics to advance commercialization efforts and further worked with Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Hsinchu Branch in actual field applications. By improving the mood of medical staff and patients, smart LED lighting helps to elevate their work efficiency and sleep quality. He emphasized that such cooperation is conducive to forming a supply chain for smart hospitals to utilize lighting technologies and these efforts are expected to benefit more patients and health workers.