The acoustic environment is an important consideration at every stage of the design process, but also needs to be considered in the context of other important factors (e.g., lighting, hygiene, temperature).
Understand that many of the design strategies used for infection control in healthcare environments can have a negative effect on the acoustic environment if not carefully considered. For example, hard surfaces are often specified for their cleanability but these surfaces often reflect sound, creating reverberation. Also, high efficiency filtration systems are often required in healthcare systems, but these surfaces require more fan horsepower and create more noise than other systems.
Employ an acoustical engineer at the early stages of the design process for healthcare facilities and regularly consult with this engineer through the post-construction stages to assist with mechanical system design, equipment and building construction specifications, and acoustical testing.
It is important to ensure that the acoustical consultant is asked to assess speech privacy and speech intelligibility in healthcare settings using proven test methods.