I read an interesting article last week, Social Context and Hearing Aid Adoption, published in the latest Trends in Hearing journal. In there, the authors conducted an explorative retrospective study where they looked at the influence of a significant other in the rehabilitative process. What they found was that hearing aid adoption is directly associated with the attendance of the significant other at audiology appointments. For example, they found 96% higher hearing aid adoption for patients with mild hearing losses when patients attended appointments with a significant other than when attending appointments alone.
As an Audiologist at Phonak, I was excited to see how this new evidence directly supports our Family-Centered Care initiative and matches very nicely with our efforts to make it easier for health care professionals to engage family members. If we take a quick look at current trends in our field, there is growing recognition among professionals about the importance of promoting partnership and using a family centered approach to hearing health care —to directly influence the overall client experience and have a more positive impact on the effect of hearing loss in families.1 In addition, if we look at the top reasons to purchase a hearing aid, the influence of a spouse or relative is in the top two further supporting the value of using a family centered approach.2 However, what I find a bit alarming is that while the recognition is there about the importance of family centered care, there are still many families today are not afforded the opportunity to actively participate in the rehabilitative process.3
One way Phonak further promotes partnership with family members during the rehabilitation process is through the development of a counseling tool called Benefit Demonstrator. Available in Phonak Target, Benefit Demonstrator takes the principles behind family centered care and focuses on engaging both the client and his significant other to facilitate the conversation about the benefits of amplification. It provides the client and his significant other an easy way to experience and directly compare different conditions all through standard headphones. It does this by presenting recordings of real hearing aids for two listening situations (phone call and a restaurant) that match the client’s hearing loss profile to quickly experience the benefits of hearing aids vs no hearing aids, the differences between monaural vs binaural fitting and compare the differences between technology levels.
In the end, what I found really compelling when reading this article is that while we have a tool designed specifically to engage a client and his significant other in the rehabilitative process and growing evidence supporting the value of a family centered approach, I feel we are at the cusp of finally being able to directly influence hearing aid adoption. We now have objective evidence clearly demonstrating the direct influence on hearing aid adoption – something our industry has struggled with for years.