There’s usually nothing fun about hospitals. That is, until Artificial Sky brought life-size illusions of nature into the mix, amid hopes of boosting spirits, spreading cheer, and improving patient outcomes. These ultra-realistic LED skylights, immersive Virtual Panel Walls, and the most innovative human-centric lighting invention of the 21st century, Virtual Sky, grace the walls, ceilings, and atria of medical centers and hospitals far and wide. Working closely with evidence-based design firms for the past 10 years, Artificial Sky has been installing its positive distraction aides in places most of us don’t ever want to go–bone marrow transplant units, dialysis suites, children’s radiology wings, cancer centers, out-patient surgical suites, hospital cafeterias, emergency rooms, abuse-counseling wards and windowless hospital waiting rooms. Artificial Sky’s ultimate plan is to transform the experience of being in a health care environment into something better, something memorable; not sterile, not generic, and certainly not gloomy. To date, thousands of patients and their families have been treated to Artificial Sky faux natural lighting that aims to soothe and inspire in difficult times.
Smiles, strength, motivation, hope, distraction – it doesn’t matter which emotions Artificial Sky products elicit, they improve the patient experience. What counts most is that the patient or visitor is engaged with the perception of nature and moved away from the realities, often unpleasant, of their treatment, or stay in the facility. The benefits of seeing and being in nature are so powerful that even pictures of landscapes can soothe in a windowless environment. In 1993, Roger S. Ulrich and his colleagues at Uppsala University Hospital in Sweden randomly assigned 160 heart surgery patients in the intensive care unit to one of six conditions: simulated “window views” of a large nature photograph (an open, tree-lined stream or a shadowy forest scene); one of two abstract paintings; a white panel; or a blank wall. Surveys afterward confirmed that patients assigned the water and tree scene were less anxious and needed fewer doses of strong pain medicine than those who looked at the darker forest photograph, abstract art, or no pictures at all.
In short, positive distractions refer to a small set of environmental features or conditions that have been found by research to effectively reduce stress. Distractions can include certain types of music, companion animals, laughter or comedy, skylights, windows, healing art, and especially views of nature.