In my last post, I discussed the results of a survey asking participants to identify design features that are important to them in healthcare facilities. Surprisingly, lighting received the most responses, with natural light gaining particular attention.

As an interior designer, I feel that lighting is perhaps the most important element in a space. Lighting has a major impact on the comfort of a space. Additionally, lighting directs patients through a clinic and helps healthcare providers deliver quality care.

We need to consider various factors when designing clinic lighting, from budget to program, demographics, geographic location, and clinic program.

Public spaces and waiting areas are opportunities to create a design statement. Multilayered, multisource lighting sets a welcoming tone. Warm general lighting to accent lighting and decorative lighting establish a relaxing mood and sense of well-being.

Corridor lighting can help in wayfinding and emotionally transition patients to the exam rooms, where brighter task lights serve functional needs.

Geographic location and gender/age also play into your lighting choices. Northern climates tend toward warmer lights to offset the impact of cold, dark winters. Southern climates tend toward brighter lights.

Clinics that serve seniors favor brighter lights to balance the daylight. Clinics that serve long-duration treatment—kidney clinics, cancer clinics—must consider the impact on patients’ emotional well-being during treatment. For an outpatient cancer center in southern California, for instance, we designed an infusion unit that combines natural and supplemental lighting with translucent art panels to add visual interest during patients’ four-hour treatments.

Perhaps it is no surprise that lighting is important to people. It affects our emotions, our productivity, our health, and our general outlook. How you approach lighting will depend on your client’s specific needs. Try your own survey to confirm what clients and patients want.

Ultimately, great lighting meets function and cost requirements while addressing patient needs. And, as winter continues, we can’t help but anticipate the incremental daylight increases each evening. Spring must be coming.