Here are 7 streaming factors to consider to help your clients in the medical profession get the most out of their hearing aids.
In my last article, ‘How ActiveVent™ Receiver can help your clients who use stethoscopes’, I talked about how this intelligent hearing aid receiver could help ‘Dr. Smith’ when using communicating with her patients. Let’s take this further and discuss streaming using stethoscopes.
Streaming configurations available for Dr. Smith
Dr. Smith expressed annoyance in removing her hearing aids every time she puts her stethoscope on. The audiologist determined that Dr. Smith’s stethoscope allows her to stream auscultation signals from a stethoscope to her hearing aids.
Dr. Smith and her audiologist discussed the different streaming configurations available. These include:
- Direct Bluetooth connectivity via a Bluetooth-enabled stethoscope
- Bluetooth streaming via a Bluetooth transmitter plugged into the stethoscope
- RogerDirect™ streaming via a Roger microphone plugged into the stethoscope
The ability to stream signals coupled with a hearing aid using ActiveVent is unique in that it provides venting flexibility. When a streamed signal is detected, ActiveVent closes the vent, providing additional low frequency output to optimize the sound quality for streaming. The closed vent contributes to a rich bass sound. When streaming stops, the vent status will reset to accommodate the change in listening condition.
7 streaming factors to consider
Since Dr. Smith can stream auscultation signals from her stethoscope to her hearing aids, it is important to ask how she would like to hear her patients while streaming.
Consider these factors:
- Mute function: If she prefers to hear more of the streamed signal and less of the environmental sounds, enable the mute function in Phonak Target. Dr. Smith can access the mute function via a long press on the multifunction button.
- Environmental balance: If Dr. Smith prefers more flexibility with the attenuation of the hearing aid microphones, she can adjust Environmental Balance via a short press on the multifunction button or by using the myPhonak app.
- MPO: Evaluate the MPO only if Dr. Smith is experiencing distortion while streaming and performing auscultation. As ActiveVent is in a closed status during streaming, consider increasing the MPO for additional headroom.
- Ambient noise: If the streaming device has external microphones, such as the Roger Select, ensure they are muted to reduce the surrounding ambient noise.
- Ease of use: The hearing aids can automatically switch into the streaming program upon detection of the Bluetooth or Roger signal. This automatic detection allows for greater ease of use when switching in and out of the streaming program.
- Compression: If Dr. Smith experiences distortion in the streamed signal, she may need to reduce the volume on the stethoscope. Increasing the volume too much on the stethoscope may lead to clipping of the streaming signals in the hearing aids.
- Latency: Streaming via Bluetooth may have a delay of around 100 ms or more in signal transmission compared to streaming via Roger. This is important for the client to note if visual and tactile perception is perceived to be out of sync with acoustics.
As there are multiple stethoscopes on the market and each client has unique listening needs, a partnership between the audiologist and client is crucial in determining the right solution. Clients may need to practice and learn what to listen for, as bodily sounds may be perceived differently via the hearing aids than without them. If available, it is recommended that clients demo the stethoscope to ensure it meets their needs.
To read an article with additional tips on fitting ActiveVent Receiver, here is another article by Jacqueline Drexler, AuD, titled 5 steps to fitting ActiveVent Receiver in Phonak Target.