It can be difficult to accept and adopt change. I will admit, initially I was unsure of how I felt about eAudiology services. I assumed the technology component would be easy for manufacturers to create, but I did not think patients would be satisfied or interested in this delivery model.
After my involvement in this research study, though, I quickly realized we can do so much more, and I dare say be more effective in our services by providing them remotely. Like any new service or product, yes, we must approach it with some reservation, and seek the data to support the change, but we must not dismiss it too quickly.
An inside look into your patient’s world
When incorporating eAudiology into your practice, I would encourage you to be open-minded and think creatively in every aspect of your daily workflow, especially regarding the way you address patient concerns. If we can provide remote services in real-time (synchronously), we can now see and hear the environment the patient is having difficulty in. We no longer need to ask question after question to gain insight into our patient’s environment, with the hope of making a correct educated conclusion of how best to address their concern.
We can now be in the environment with them. We can measure the level of surrounding noise, we can see where they are sitting, we can see the acoustics of the room, we can listen to the person they are speaking with. We can experience their communication journey with them. My hope is this will help us reach our conclusions quicker and help us decide if the solution lies within hearing aid adjustments, accessories, or realistic expectations counseling.
The power of practice
If you decide eAudiology services are right for you and your clinic, then you must practice, practice, practice! When a patient is in our clinic, they can watch us connect, troubleshoot, and adjust the hearing aids. We must remember, patients cannot do this when we are working with them remotely. We must keep them involved in the appointment by describing everything we are doing.
I discovered very early on it was easy to multitask and adjust the hearing aids while the patient was talking. I thought I was being more efficient, when in fact, I was not taking the time to connect, actively listen and describe to my patient what I was doing. I was also unsure of where to look. Should I look at the patient on my screen or directly at the camera, so the patient perceives me as looking them in the eyes? Before your first remote session, I encourage you to create a mock appointment, so you can practice interacting with someone using a web camera. When working with a patient remotely, we still need to be cognizant of how we are communicating, both verbally and physically.
I am excited to finally see products available and capable of this service delivery model. I hope, with time, you all have a positive and similar experience to the one I have had.
Angley, G., Schnittker, J.A., Tharpe, A.M. (2017). Remote hearing aid support: The next frontier. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, 28, 10, 893-900(8).