After having 3 kids, I have done my share of sitting in waiting rooms. Usually, it’s not really that big of a deal- ear ache, cough, even well check-ups. You sit and you wait….and usually you listen to everybody else because you’re bored. The same was true last week for me when my son had a tonsillectomy. He is 4, and I was your typical nervous mama. I found myself wishing I had researched more, read more on what to expect. All I could do was watch him run around in the waiting room and wonder if everything would be okay….until they took him for the surgery. Then, my heart raced and I calmed myself by focusing on those in the room. Many were receiving news about their own loved ones, and I found myself desperate for good news…so much so that I actually eavesdropped in the hopes of cheering myself up!
Thus, I discovered that every time a doctor or medical staff entered the waiting room, my head popped and my ears perked up whether I meant to or not. I hung on every word, wondering if I would receive similar news. What was normal? What was problematic? Everyone’s news became my lifeline, which was an invasion of privacy for them for sure.
Sound Masking for Medical Faciilties
Fortunately, none of what I overheard was all that sensitive. The other parents received good news, as did I. Nonetheless, I shouldn’t have eavesdropped. Their news should have been theirs, not mine. I was reminded of HIPAA and how medical facilities are required by law to safeguard our medical information by all reasonable means. Most facilities assume that being careful online is enough. However, in contexts more serious than mine, personal medical information could certainly be compromised in waiting rooms and doctor’s offices.
A simple solution for waiting rooms and offices is sound masking. Just like white noise cuts distractions in noisy offices, with a sound masking system, it can cover conversations in medical facilities by creating speech privacy. Instead of maximizing productivity, this time speech privacy does what it sounds like- creates privacy. By rendering speech unintelligible with low-level background noise, nosy people like me aren’t privy to others’ personal information.