Infographic: The Healthcare Speech Privacy Crisis

In today’s medical offices, protecting patient privacy is critical, and is enforced via HIPAA privacy regulations. Acoustics and sound privacy are often overlooked in open-floor plan waiting areas, and in patient rooms — where sound can easily travel over walls and through glass.

As illustrated in the infographic below from Cambridge Sound Management, patient speech privacy is often nonexistent in healthcare facilities. Spaces such as reception areas, nurses stations, patient rooms, and exam rooms often get compromised.

speech privacy
(CLICK TO ENLARGE. Source: Cambridge Sound Management)

What’s The Problem?

According to a white paper from Cambridge Sound Management, speech privacy between two spaces is a function of two factors: the background noise level in the receiving space (expressed as Noise Criterion, NC) and the acoustic separation of the total construction between the spaces (expressed as Sound Transmission Class, STC). The combination of these two ratings (STC + NC) has been shown to correlate well with the degree of speech privacy.


The practical range of SPP is from 60-90, with anything less than 60 representing “no speech privacy” and anything greater than 90 representing “total privacy.”

Direct-field sound masking improves the patient experience by reducing noise distractions and protecting patients’ speech privacy. Sound masking can help healthcare facilities meet HIPAA standards and be a leader in patient privacy. Want to learn more? Click here to watch a video about sound masking in healthcare facilities.