Sound Masking for Health Care Environments: The Essentials and The Benefits of Controlled Noise

Sound masking helps ensure patient privacy, increases speech confidentiality and addresses HIPAA regulations.

Ensuring patient privacy and controlling unwanted sound transmissions in private rooms and public areas, is not always possible, depending on the amount of open spaces and reflective surfaces in various environments. Dealing with uncontrollable sound, or pitch silence, is paramount for encouraging patient privacy in a environment that is safe and efficient.

Sound masking is one of the best options for encouraging speech privacy and keeping a hospital or any healthcare environment distraction free. Sound masking specifically refers to the use of environmental white noise to enhance speech confidentiality and the mitigation of other distracting sounds.

Ideal for environments that are classified as open plans, private rooms such as operating rooms and conference rooms as well as public spaces, sound masking works with the floor plan of your facility to help ensure confidentiality and distraction reduction.

Good sound masking strategies offer consistent, controlled distribution of white noise to ensure that the result is both subtle and efficient. Consistency also ensures that sound challenges attributed to low ceilings and open spaces in-pelum (the space between the ceiling tiles and the structural limit of the ceiling) are dealt with successfully. The best option for accomplishing consistent sound masking throughout is known as a “direct-field” system.

Direct-field systems create a literal field of noise throughout a space. Integrated miniature emitters that are installed directly in to the ceiling tiles of a target space control the masked field. Technicians can control these sound emitters to ensure that sound is evenly distributed and the sound dispersion works naturally within the space.

“Direct field sound masking results in a much more uniform sound dispersion than solutions that are installed above the false ceiling (the plenum). Direct field solutions are also more cost-effective because installation is much easier than with plenum solutions,” says Bernie Buelow, director of Marketing for Cambridge Sound Management.

Sound masking is also ideal for addressing HIPAA and GLBA regulations regarding speech privacy and sound control in work environments. For example, in medical environments, where patient record confidentiality is regulated, managing confidential speech intelligibility is enforced. With sound masking, protecting patients is made possible by reducing sound dispersion from private offices and other confidential clinical spaces.

Applying sound masking to your space is a great way to manage your environment. Plus, with low energy systems, adding this technology to your space is advantageous for LEED certification and establishing your space as a green environment focused on productivity and teamwork.

Download the case study from Tech Decisions.

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