What Is Sound Masking?
Sound masking allows you to use digital devices to add sound to your environment through hidden speakers to create confidentiality or reduce noise distraction where you need it most. The type of sound generated by sound masking technology is discreet, random, and provides no decipherable information about the system to listeners.
How Does It Work?
Sound masking allows you to increase the ambient noise level in an area, which masks speech and diminishes sound distraction. While adding more sound to mask existing sounds seems contrary to what we might think, ambient sounds actually makes a room seem more quiet. This additional sound at just the right frequency makes certain tones, like human speech, less distinguishable.
We’ve all experienced sound masking at one time or another. Maybe you’ve flown on a plane, and you’ve noticed how it’s only easy to really hear and understand the person next to you. The ambient sound made by the forced air systems in the plane masks the sounds of other talking passengers around you.
Perhaps you’ve tried to have a conversation with someone in a place where there’s running water, like a kitchen sink. The sound of the running water (the ambient sound in this example) makes it a challenge to hear and understand a person who is across the room.
What Does It Sound Like?
When installed and used as intended, sound masking doesn’t really sound like anything. If it can be compared to a sound, it’s similar to gently forced air. Sound masking should be non-invasive and establish speech privacy.
HIPPA Compliance and Sound Masking
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) regulations require all medical professionals and organizations to protect patient information by all reasonable means. Recent legislation put in place dictates that infringements on this privacy requirement result in fines and other possible legal action.
While accidental transfer of private medical information is usually unintentional, it often happens that this sensitive information is breached as a result of overheard conversations in facilities not protected against sound leaks.
Some areas commonly susceptible to sound leaks are public spaces like:
- Doctor’s office waiting rooms
- Nurse stations in common halls
- Phone calls in common spaces
- Staff conversations in common spaces
- Offices with thinner walls
Sound Masking and HIPPA - Improve Privacy, Improve Your Bottom Line
According to Press-Ganey patient satisfaction surveys, there is a clear link between patient satisfaction and their perception of quality of care and profitability.
- Satisfied patients experience less stress themselves.
- Satisfied patients present less stress to medical staff, resulting in fewer errors and more profit.
- Satisfied patients also share their experiences with others and are willing to refer your practice or hospital to their friends and family.
What Are the Regulations?
Current HIPPA legislation requires all healthcare organizations, including pharmacies, to take proper action to put into place technical and physical barriers that protect patient privacy. This includes conversations with doctors in their offices, hospital registration areas, nursing stations, insurance service call centers and even the offices of human resources representatives.
These regulations apply to written, electronic, and verbal transmission of this sensitive information.
How Can I Ensure Compliance?
For organizations in the process of building, improving, or managing any healthcare-related facility where patient information is at risk, sound masking can be extremely successful and cost effective solution. When it comes to patient satisfaction, privacy is a critical factor that you can provide using sound masking.
Becoming HIPPA compliant can be much more simple and easy than you might think. It may be possible to meet privacy regulations with the installation of a sound masking system, upgrades to wall and ceiling panels, or a combination of various solutions, based on the needs in your facility. Let T1 Technologies, Inc. help you determine if sound masking is the first step in providing better privacy for your clients.
Using sound-generation technology, sound masking introduces an unobtrusive, ambient background sound into open spaces, and other areas.
Along with meeting HIPPA requirements, sound masking can also increase patient satisfaction as well as employee productivity.
What Are HIPPA Compliant Ceiling Panels?
As is often the case, when a facility is designed and built, acoustics are not a primary factor of design. The use of general-purpose ceiling panels in medical facilities and pharmacies is common. The general-purpose panels provide little to no sound reduction as a prominent feature.
One simple step to providing privacy protection in these facilities is to upgrade existing ceiling tiles with high noise reduction coefficient (NRC) and sound transmission class (STC) ratings. This simple upgrade can be the first step to bringing your facility compliant with HIPPA regulations.
Contact us for more information or a free onsite consultation to discuss your sound masking needs.