eAudiology

Age is only a number!

“Let´s take a look at clients who are well-suited to use Remote Support and other eAudiology applications.”

Remote Support was the first project I worked on after moving to Switzerland in 2011. I have always found the opportunities and possibilities associated with this technology exciting, so it has been a pleasure seeing this tool become available to the market.

One aspect of Remote Support I am frequently asked about is candidacy, more specifically, the age of the client who is best suited for this tool. The average age of hearing aid users is in the 70´s, so naturally the use of technology involving smartphones, apps, etc. has been questioned many times. Ultimately, I don’t see this as an issue — let me tell you why.

Tech savvy or not – motivation is enough

In 2 of our field trials, the average age of participants was 63 years old. On average, 25% of the participants had a family member or friend help them if they needed assistance before the appointment or during the appointment. This showed me that even clients who struggle are still able to find a way to use technology if they are motivated. If they can´t operate the technology themselves, they will simply ask someone who is more technically savvy to assist them. This is a great solution! We did not encourage or discourage assistance during our studies, so if this was encouraged by audiologists, maybe that percentage of client’s assisted would be even greater than 25%.

‘Cool’ option for digital-loving teens

As we strive to drive the average age of hearing aid users down to increase early adoption rates, young adults and teenagers are perfectly poised to become promising eAudiology prospects. This age group is already technically savvy and using technology on a daily basis. As a matter of fact, a study from Adrian Davis and Gwen Carr exploring Remote Support with disengaged teenagers showed very promising results. They found that technology can be an attractive option for this age group because it empowers them to independently seek hearing aid services. Another colleague of mine who is currently conducting a study with teens 12 -20 years old in China, is also receiving feedback about remote support being “cool”. It´s never a bad thing if your clients like, or even possibly enjoy, the way they receive services.

Convenience for millennial moms and busy families

The last group I would like to mention is children. Their parents are perfectly positioned to use this type of technology to better meet the needs of the entire family so their child has the best possible outcomes. Think of the millennial mom. Forbes published an article in 2017 titled, Millennial Moms, The $2.4 Trillion Social Media Influencer. These moms control 85% of spending in the household and spend an average of 8 hours/day online. Make no mistake, attending a Remote Support appointment to quickly run a feedback manager to shush a squealing earmold will be a piece of cake for this section of your cliental.

Services offered remotely can also fill a gap that some families experience; Mom, Dad, or other primary caregivers not being able to miss work to attend appointments together, resulting in information and instruction about the hearing aids falling through the cracks. As a former pediatric audiologist, I know this feeling and it is something we all want to avoid. In the study I presented from Karen Muñoz et al. (2017), they saw this exact circumstance and were able to increase daily wear time for the child by using remote appointments to read datalogging and address specific needs. Remote Support enabled the audiologist to include all caregivers in the appointments at a time that was convenient for them. I can think back to many families on my caseload who would have greatly benefitted from this service.

eAudiology tools not age-dependent

I believe Remote Support, and other eAudiology tools, will become common place and we are in the first part of that transition now. There is not an age group that is excluded from using these tools, solely based on age alone. That is exciting!

All of your clients, some with the help of family or friends, could have access to new ways of receiving audiological care. That is not to say that remote appointments are right for every client, but it is something you should not rule out simply due to the age of your client. It is best to look at their needs to determine if they are a good candidate. Age is only a number.

Jean Anne’s recorded webinar on this same topic will be available on Phonak Learning (accessible in participating countries). Watch for its promotion on social media or search #eaudiologyphonak directly on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. For more information on all eAudiology webinars, please visit https://learning.phonakpro.com/

 

References

Venkatesan, A., & Carr, G. (2019). Could teleaudiology be the answer for teens? Phonak Field Study News, in preparation, available by April 1st, 2019.

Karen Muñoz, Kristin Kibbe, Elizabeth Preston, Ana Caballero, Lauri Nelson, Karl White & Michael Twohig (2017) Paediatric hearing aid management: a demonstration project for using virtual visits to enhance parent support, International Journal of Audiology, 56:2, 77-84,

 

Jean Anne’s recorded webinar on this same topic will be available on Phonak Learning (accessible in participating countries). Watch for its promotion on social media or search #eaudiologyphonak directly on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. For more information on all eAudiology webinars, please visit https://learning.phonakpro.com/

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