For audiologists like Michael Blackburn and me who live in the northern half of the United States, it’s that special time of year. No, we’re not referring to the recent holiday season. We’re referring to that annual ritual of winterizing.
For our friends in warmer climates around the globe, it’s when us ‘Northerners’ have to prepare for the long, cold winter months ahead. This includes activities, such as putting away garden hoses and patio furniture, switching to snow tires, checking snow blowers, replacing broken snow shovels, and purchasing ice melt.
However, like any activity, a little preparation goes a long way toward preventing future issues. In the world of hearing care, the idea of ‘winterizing’ your practice can yield benefits far exceeding the minimal up-front work involved, even if your home base includes the island of Margaritaville.
Remote Support can benefit you and your patients
When we think of uses for Remote Support, it is natural to consider restrictions based on COVID-19. However, there are many other opportunities that we would like you to consider, such as hazardous weather conditions like sudden significant snowfall. When we were still practicing clinically, it was not uncommon to have experienced a sudden overnight snow or ice event causing a rapid clearing of a day’s scheduled appointments.
While at the time, it brought back fond memories of a school snow day, we quickly realized that not only would we now have to find the time to work them into a busy schedule, there was also the potential of an unanticipated hit to revenue. If we had a way to still see appointments, such as follow-up adjustments, its overall impact would have been minimal.
Additionally, there are some individuals who cannot travel outside if there is an increased fall risk, especially those in assisted living. Having the ability to continue to assist these patients more than 9 months out of the year would have been a real asset.
The great thing is that tools to assist with these scenarios currently exist with Phonak Remote Support. Remote Support gives you and your patients the ability to conduct virtual appointments, just like they were sitting across the table from you in your clinic. The magic happens for you within the safe and familiar Target fitting environment and the easy-to-use myPhonak app for the patient.
Remote Support allows for adjustments to existing Phonak Marvel™ and Paradise™ fittings along with the opportunity for a quick recheck of thresholds using the in-situ hearing test, AudiogramDirect. This allows your patients to remain in the comfort of their own home wearing their favorite slippers without having to brave the elements. We never cease to be amazed at all the creative ways providers find to use Remote Support to benefit their patients.
Tell your patients Remote Support is available
Obviously, the most common time to discuss and set up Remote Support is during the initial fitting; however, we would encourage you to also discuss the benefits of the technology during the hearing aid trial and beyond. Many times, it becomes a huge motivator for patients and is seen as a very cutting-edge feature of such advanced hearing aids.
However, if the need for Remote Support presents itself after the fitting, the setup can easily be initiated by you in the clinic and remotely completed by the patient at home. We also have guides and instructions you can send to the patient to aid them in the process.
Next steps to implement Remote Support
Now that you are thinking about the benefits of Remote Support, you can consider the steps to take to ‘winterize’ your practice. First and foremost is to ensure you understand the technology by reviewing any training materials. Then think about the staff in your clinic. When a patient calls to cancel due to weather, travel challenges or other concerns, think about if your staff are ready to recommend a remote follow-up appointment instead.
Finally, consider that offering Remote Support will differentiate your practice and delight your patients. Let your patients know that you offer this cutting-edge service by updating your website, sending out a winter email about Remote Support, and including Remote offerings in your other marketing materials, like social media. We have expert marketing professionals who can help you with creating these opportunities to reach out to your patients.
And while we know that winterizing is not something done in all parts of the country or world, the uses and benefits translate to everyone. If you find that you would like more information regarding Remote Support and the opportunities it provides, we encourage you to reach out to your Phonak Representative. We hope you all have a safe and healthy winter, but excuse us, we have some windows to scrape.
Visit phonakpro.com for more information on eSolutions.
Michael Blackburn, Senior eSolutions Manager
Michael is the Senior eSolutions Manager at Phonak since March 2020. While he has just recently joined the Phonak team, he comes with a wealth of experience leading teleaudiology initiatives within the Department of Veterans Affairs. For 3 years, Michael served as the teleaudiology and vestibular diagnostic leads in St. Cloud, MN. Prior to that he was a clinical audiologist at a large medical center in Peoria, IL, providing hearing aids, cochlear implants and dizziness services for pediatric to geriatric patients. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Communicative Disorders from Northern Illinois University and his Doctor of Audiology from Northwestern University.