Harmonious Hospital Alarms


Sitting in a hospital, waiting for time to pass before our examinations, oftentimes we feel a sense of anxiety from what is about to occur. Whether it’s an extensive surgery that is being prepared or a cancer decision that is being decided, various situations call for a surge of restlessness in which we can’t seem to calm down in a hospital setting. Even worse, the ringing noises that pendulum back and forth at a constant rhythm gets our heart rate more pumped up, thus causing more nervousness. In fact, many patients have found these periodic noises to be so nerve-wracking that the future itself starts to lose fear in contrast to the sounds being made in the present.

To combat this issue, entrepreneur Yoko Sen has introduced a new innovation: hospital alarms with distinct, therapeutic melodies.

With these devices installed, typical chirping sounds that cause restlessness or annoyance transform into soothing rhythms that give the overall hospital setting a more relaxed appeal. Just as how one may find calmness from classical music, this melody played out by the sounds can give the same effect, thus lowering levels of anxiety.

Another important benefit that comes from her devices is that it limits the sensation of “alarm fatigue” that has been a growing problem in the health department. Because a large percent of alarms are false in urgency, often times nurses and doctors disregard the bleeping noises because they assume nothing is wrong. With so many noises playing all at once, staff grow less assertive to certain noises that may actually be signaling a fatal circumstance causing consequences like death.

Working with Sen, Dr. Edworthy, a professor of applied psychology at the University of Plymouth, in Britain, has also been studying a range of sounds that can eliminate the beeping noises of standard alarms. Sounds like heartbeats or little music run-throughs have been considered in the process, and it seems like there has been a degree of progress so far.

From a person who loves music in its rhythmic form, this is an interesting project that I look forward to seeing in the large scope of hospitals sooner than later. Let’s welcome harmonious hospital alarms.

To learn more about the different tones and sounds Sen and Dr. Edworthy have been preparing please check out the New York Times article below!

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