In this MEDICA-tradefair.com interview, Dr. Marc Achilles explains how light technology can prevent delirium, details how the VitalSky system works, and reveals the role artificial intelligence could play in the future of delirium prevention.
Dr. Achilles, how is your intensive care unit set up?
Dr. Marc Achilles: Our state-of-the-art intensive care unit opened in 2017, features 18 ICU beds, and has 1,200 square meters of floor space. The unit treats over 1,800 patients per year. Apart from classic intensive care unit treatments – including sepsis, respiratory failure, cardiogenic shock, and severe injuries - we predominantly focus on delirium prevention using VitalMinds from Philips. Last year, we were the first hospital in the world to equip seven ICU beds with the VitalSky light therapy system.
How does this system work?
Achilles: The patient lies under an artificial sky that measures 4 meters in length and 2 meters in width. The ceiling installation has 13,000 LEDs. During the 24-hour cycle, the artificial light mimics the sunlight outside and replicates the rising sun in the morning, for example. The light intensity slowly increases and stays bright all day since the body needs to be exposed to lots of light during the day to suppress the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. This means that the patient – including those on ventilators – is awake during the day and sleeps well at night. The light is subsequently lowered at night, allowing just enough low light intensity in the room for physicians and nurses to monitor the patient. The patient is not disturbed by this light or any alarms. Heart rate or blood pressure alarms are directed away from the patient. Circadian-effective light therapy and sound management are the two basic components of the VitalSky system.