As audiologists, we know that teleaudiology is far from a new concept and has been applied and studied in several areas to date. A successful application of teleaudiology has been in remote newborn hearing screenings. This was an area of audiology that made a lot of sense due to fewer pediatric specialists, making it more difficult for families to travel further distances to receive appropriate care.
Our team recently developed a remote fitting prototype for clients who would not have access to services otherwise, or for clients who are inconvenienced by traveling to the hearing care professional’s office for simple changes during follow-up visits.
In our studies around the globe, we found clients to be accepting and enthusiastic of this service delivery model and hearing care professionals were open to the idea, especially after hands-on experience using the prototype with clients. It is important to note that remote fitting is certainly not meant for every use case, but hearing care professionals were able to make small adjustments commonly needed for follow-up fittings during the trial period. Tasks such as physical inspection of the ear or the hearing aid, real ear measurements, or re-testing the client’s hearing, still of course, require a face-to-face visit.
We were pleased the outcomes of our studies were so positive. Even when the audiologist faced technical difficulties, the positive attitudes of the clients were not impacted. In fact, 40% of clients in one study reported they would “visit” their audiologist more often if remote fitting was available.
As other medical professions offer remote services to clients, I believe at some point this type of service delivery will become driven by the end-consumer. As elderly clients become more tech savvy, they will also be better equipped to take on the world of virtual clinic visits. There will always be a place for face-to-face visits, but if you haven’t considered remote fitting as an option for your clients, now may be the time to consider if there are any clients you serve who could benefit from this type of technology.
For more information on telehealth applications in audiology, here is an abstract to an informative article.
If you have personal experiences of how your patient benefit (or could benefit) from remote fitting technology, we would like to hear from you. Please share your experiences below.