Bringing Elements of Sound into the Built Environment

There’s been a shift in design in recent years toward a more holistic approach, which takes into account all of the five human senses. By creating environments that appeal to people in all the ways they absorb and process information, the end users (e.g. patients and other visitors) enjoy their experience more and tend to receive greater benefits from it. 

Specifically in medical facilities, sound matters a lot. The right healthcare acoustics can contribute greatly to human-centric designs for healthcare. Here are a few benefits so you better understand the tie-in between medical audio visual and AV system design in supporting the best sound options possible. 

1. Healing through sound. 

It’s imperative that patients in healthcare settings are given the right conditions for adequate rest and relaxation. After all, no matter their reason for being in the facility, health and/or healing are the ultimate goals. To that end, excess noise in a healthcare environment can disrupt patients’ sleep and grate on their nerves. 

On the flip side, a medical space that is devoid of sound can feel eerie or strange. Many people need some sort of white noise at least to be able to sleep, so the absence of sound can even interfere with rest. When you plan for sound to be used to support healing from the outset of a build, you can incorporate the AV systems required much more seamlessly. 

For example, English musician, record producer, and visual artist Brian Eno worked with a hospital to create a space with generative music and continuously changing paintings made with light. The hospital reported that patients who were feeling overwhelmed used the space to process information or slow down and decompress. 

Whether you plan a dedicated space with soothing sounds and images for patients to use when they feel stressed, or incorporate gentle sound into the rooms themselves to keep the volume consistent and avoid excess noise –  or too little, patients will benefit. 

2. Enriching the experience. 

Nobody wants to be in the hospital or at any medical facility. People usually go there when they’re sick or injured, and are scared, sad or frustrated about being there in the first place. So the patients’ use means they are not arriving there in a neutral state of mind. 

While you can’t change their circumstances, you can do a lot to improve their mood and create a positive environment for them and their families. Offer interactive TVs in the rooms that have multiple music and sound stations, play calming tunes in all waiting areas and experiment with other creative ways to use sound to make the experience more enjoyable. You’ll help boost moods and make an otherwise stressful situation better for the people who come through the facility’s doors.  

3. Improved workflow. 

Too much noise, like never-ending alerts and the jarring whirs and dings of machines and equipment in a healthcare setting, is more than just annoying. It’s also disruptive to caregivers, making it harder for them to clearly communicate and to focus on their tasks at hand. This can be especially dangerous when medical professionals are doling out medication or performing risky procedures. 

You can make improvements in safety, productivity, effectiveness and workflow by lessening the obnoxious noises that aren’t serving a purpose. You can also use systems that help you prioritize the sounds that really deserve attention, like notifications from critical pieces of equipment. 

One example of sound being used in this way comes from a medical device company that worked with an ambient electronic musician to layer vocals onto cardiac monitors. This way, the alerts were noticeable and got the attention they required but weren’t alarming or disruptive.

If you start your build with human-centric designs for healthcare in mind, the next natural step is to prioritize AV systems that support patients and medical facilities with sound. To learn more about how to use sound for best results in healthcare environments, contact us any time.