This is the final post in the Noise Monitoring blog series.
Not all noise monitoring solutions are created equal, and in looking for the best possible solution, users should pay attention to how comprehensive, cost-effective, and easy to implement their options are. For maximum effectiveness, solutions should aim to integrate all seven of these key factors.
- Technology Requirements: The best solutions will be able to monitor noise levels using both the A-weighted and C-weighted scales. Most sound monitoring devices are programmed for A-weighted scales; it’s the most commonly used scale, designed for low-frequency noise, and best for predicting the risk of damage to the ear. The addition of C-weighted scales, however, allows devices to detect a much larger range of low-frequency sounds, even at high noise levels. Putting the two together in a noise monitoring solution means that noise levels are addressed in the most comprehensive way possible.
- Ease of integration. The ideal noise monitoring solution will, instead of requiring extensive new infrastructure, rely on that which already exists. Integration of noise monitoring solutions into existing automated BMS reduces cost and stress for hospital management, and makes use of noise monitoring tools easy and intuitive for users.
- Simplicity and silence: Noise monitoring devices should be invisible to patients and– at risk of stating the obvious– should provide silent alarms when decibel levels rise too high. For hospital staff and public areas, a system of colored lights provides the silent, but necessary reminder to “keep it down.” Using the standard red, yellow, and green color scheme we are all accustomed provides easily recognizable signals, and won’t add to the cacophony.
- Flexibility: Optimal noise solutions should be adaptable for any location where noise could become a problem. Environmental noise isn’t limited to one place, so the solution to address it shouldn’t be, either. A good solution will be usable anywhere from an operating room to a neonatal unit to a waiting room.
- Compliance: Solutions should be specifically targeted toward hospitals, and they should comply with basic IEC requirements for safety and equipment performance.
- Noise level logging: A data log, usually one which records four weeks’ worth of data, makes it easy for hospital management to identify where to focus efforts for noise management. A solution which automatically includes this kind of data gathering maximizes efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
- Presence of a graphical interface: Visual representations of noise trends facilitates easy sound mapping. A graphical interface which shows noise “hot spots” makes it easy to identify and tackle the areas where adjustments to lower noise are most needed.
Some preliminary research has shown that a solution which integrates these factors can reduce noise significantly. A study conducted at a hospital in Hanover, Germany, assessed the use of the SoundEar® noise monitoring system and its impact on noise levels, and found that as noise levels decreased, so did the stress levels of medical professionals, and the instances of patient postoperative complications. This study seems to show that through maximizing use of noise monitoring solutions which meet these criteria, we can go a long way in reducing noise levels in hospitals– and improving patient satisfaction and care.
Read about these factors, and the SoundEar system, in our white paper on noise monitoring.