Quietness of patient rooms

A number of forces have brought acoustical issues to the forefront for US hospitals.

One of the most powerful is the Value-Based Purchasing Program, which uses Medicare withholding to financially penalize facilities that perform poorly on Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) surveys.

Since this program began, the quietness of patients’ rooms at night has consistently been one of the lowest—or, in many cases, the lowest-rated—satisfaction marker, dragging down consistency scores and patients’ overall rating of their stay.

Understanding sound masking

Many hospitals are turning to sound masking to address this problem.

This technology consists of a series of loudspeakers installed in a grid-like pattern in the ceiling, as well as a method of controlling their zoning and output. The loudspeakers distribute a comfortable sound that’s similar to softly blowing air.

Though adding more sound seems to contradict the goal of controlling noise, the premise behind this solution is simple: it covers up noises that are lower in volume and diminishes the impact of those that are higher by reducing the magnitude of change between baseline and peak volumes in the space. For this reason, sound masking has also been found to be a very effective method of improving sleep in healthcare environments (Stachina et al, 2005).

Similarly, sound masking either entirely covers conversations or reduces their intelligibility, assisting with HIPAA compliance.

The LogiSon® Acoustic Network

Of course, it’s not enough to introduce just any sound into a hospital. Objective, quantitative evidence supports the need for proper sound masking system design, as well as precise tuning.

In order to achieve consistent masking effectiveness throughout the often highly-fragmented hospital environment, the LogiSon Acoustic Network uses small zones of 1 to 3 loudspeakers, providing precise control over both volume (0.5 dBA steps) and frequency (1/3-octave).

After installation, the masking sound is professionally tuned using our unique TARGET software, ensuring dependable coverage throughout the installation.

The networked control allows changes to be made without opening the ceiling, which otherwise has the potential to spread contaminants into the occupied space below. Patients can also adjust the masking volume according to individual need in their rooms. In this way, the system not only improves comfort but also increases patients’ sense of control over their environment.

To learn more about our Nightingale-winning technology,

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