Modern-day telecommunication technology enables clinicians to provide professional services at a distance, linking the patient/client to the clinician, or the clinician to another provider, to facilitate remote assessment, intervention and/or consultation services. With a little up-front fact-finding, you can obtain important information regarding your roles and responsibilities in the provision of safe and effective eAudiology services. Consider talking with early-adopters and using the resources that are out there to help you with this task.
Here are 10 key practice considerations:
1. Client selection – Is tele-audiology the best choice for your patient/client? Consider factors such as their comfort level with technology and the service delivery method, age (e.g., parental/caregiver support, manual dexterity), hearing/vision impairments and technology needs.
2. Practice setting – What practice setting are you interested in providing tele-audiology services in? This might include a school, hospital, clinic, university, home or care facility. Each practice setting will present unique technology set-up/maintenance needs and require knowledge and compliance with the regulations and policies specific to the setting of interest.
3. Applications – What practice area are you interested in applying tele-audiology delivery models in? Whether it is remote hearing aid fitting, aural rehabilitation or another area of tele-audiology, it is important to make sure that the application of interest aligns with your skill-set, the technology being used, and with the patient/client factors.
4. Stakeholder support – Do you have the support of involved stakeholders? Consider planning, advocacy and/or training efforts to reach clinicians, administrators, organizational leaders, sponsors, patients/clients and their family members, to name a few!
5. Licensure/Certification – What are the regulatory requirements regarding tele-audiology for your practice location and for the location in which the patient/client will be receiving services? Prior to starting a tele-audiology service delivery plan, verify your licensure requirements and status of liability insurance, according to the regulatory body you are governed by.
6. Record keeping – Ensure you are aware of all regulations regarding record keeping, including documentation of informed consent to services delivered via tele-audiology.
7. Reimbursement – Make sure you have up-to-date knowledge regarding reimbursement for remote services according to applicable payers/sponsors. Knowledge in this will ensure that you are collecting and documenting the required information and can influence your billing structure.
8. Technology and competencies – Are you confident with your knowledge and technical abilities to provide tele-audiology services using application-specific equipment? This may present an opportunity to get some training on the equipment you would like to use and/or to ensure that you have technological assistance available to you.
9. Connectivity and signal quality – Are you able to provide a good-quality audio and/or video signal? Requirements may vary depending on the application of interest and/or the patient/client’s communication disorder and may require you to check things like the internet connection speech and bandwidth requirements.
10. Privacy and security – Learn the regulations and requirements around ensuring patient/client confidentiality, privacy and security of information. Services including the electronic transition of information may require you to modify your practices (e.g. encrypting your data, modifying identifiers and/or passwords, etc.).
In the upcoming weeks, Dr. Glista’s recorded webinar on this topic will be available. Watch for its promotion on social media or search #eaudiologyphonak directly on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.