It’s not just noise that’s a nuisance. People tend to be more dissatisfied with sound privacy than noise level. That’s the biggest drawback of open floor spaces — there’s absolutely no speech privacy.
This really impacts productivity in the workplace. However, it’s even more critical when that workplace is a health care facility.
Healthcare environments are especially sensitive to risks if there’s no speech privacy.
It’s typical during shift changes and physicians’ rounds to have nurses and doctors congregate in small groups just outside of a patient’s room for confidential discussions.
Speech privacy is really significant anytime a physician discusses a case with the care team.
The Power to Reduce Medical Errors?
“Maintaining speech privacy in healthcare settings helps reduce medical errors as it supports open conversations among patients, families, and Patient Care Teams (PCTs) and is believed to influence patient satisfaction,” wrote Cambridge Sound Management in a whitepaper, Sound Masking Solutions for Hospital Environments.
Privacy is also extremely important in any open areas such as reception rooms and pharmacy counters.
“With a minimal investment, sound masking makes speech no longer discernible, so employees can concentrate,” says Tom Nyhus, VP of engineering emerging technologies at IVCi.
“It helps them to focus, so they can work faster with fewer mistakes. These benefits to business far outweigh the costs of this sensible solution.”
The Biggest Concerns, Solved
In healthcare environments, sound masking reduces speech intelligibility, eases a patient’s fear of being overheard and satisfies the mandated HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) requirements. It can also improve sleep, a very important part of the healing process.
“It can be seen that sound masking has the most significant effect in promoting ICU patients’ sleep, producing an improvement of 42.7 percent,” according to Cambridge Sound Management.
When deployed properly, sound masking systems mimic a gentle flow of air, but they don’t use white noise, which is a very specific type of sound.
After more than 30 years of acoustical engineering research, companies such as Atlas, Cambridge, and Lencore have developed sound masking solutions.
They use a narrow frequency range from approximately 100 to 6,000 Hz and follow a specified, non-linear curve developed for both effectiveness and comfort. That’s why sound masking can pleasantly provide speech privacy in today’s environments.
Sound masking is an excellent low-cost option for creating speech privacy in open office spaces and healthcare environments in particular. Not only will it muffle conversations to compensate for the lack of walls in modern floor plans, it will also keep patient care conversations confidential.