For the healthcare design professional, specifying a patient room color palette is a little like color forecasting: specifying surface and furnishing colorations that will remain trendy for several years but yet still be consistent with the latest design-related, evidence-based research. But when you consider the limited availability of color research for the healthcare setting, specifying color is increasingly difficult, so why not seek evidence from mainstream science and the basic tenant of color: light is color and color is light. Currently the scientific photo biological research percolating from the world’s leading labs such as Johns Hopkins, Harvard, Tulane, and Thomas Jefferson is demonstrating how low levels of specific wavelengths (colors) of light affect the human brain and body, as well as solicit an epigenetic response on DNA. Examining the strength of their research, it is not a stretch to see that for future healthcare design pros, this means one thing: specifying healthcare color in the form of ever-changing light as a customized prescription for health and wound healing. Curious? Here’s my color forecast for things to come:

Because of rising iatrogenic infection rates and concerns with surface transmission sites, within a few years we will see patient room walls constructed of clear glass or antimicrobial polycarbonate panels, backlit with computer-controlled LED lighting. This will eliminate drywall and the subsequent need for applying high maintenance pigmented colorant such as paint or wall covering. What happens next is amazing; the ability to “dial up” wavelengths of specific colored light which would emanate from the panels and fill each room with prescribed colored light selected to assist the body and brain as it fights illness, tries to sleep, and goes about healing wounds. Based on mainstream photobiological research, the design pro will be specifying a neutral, light-reflecting, patient room color palette which would ensure a high degree of compatibility with any physician-ordered colored light. With the installation of a user-friendly computer interface system provided for each patient room, similar to the real life unit scheduled for the NASA lunar and Martian landings, the healthcare professional will be able to dial up the specific wavelength of colored light deemed appropriate for a specific condition, illness, or procedure. In other words, future healthcare designers will be specifying a patient room color palette that would be adaptable for each new patient and be supportive of an environmentally derived healing dose of colored light! So what are your thoughts on the future of healthcare color … I’d love to hear your comments