Teleaudiology – could you receive quality hearing care via your smartphone?
How would you feel having your healthcare managed via your computer or your smartphone?
For many people living in remote parts of the country, it’s rare that they get to speak to their doctor face-to-face. For them, being able to access vital healthcare in this way has been a real godsend. It provides a great platform for clients searching for greater convenience as well.
Teleaudiology, the provision of hearing healthcare using technology, isn’t a new idea. It’s been increasingly used with patients who live well out of urban centres. It saves both the patient and hearing care provider a lot of travel time. It can also be convenient for people to be ‘seen’ in their own home.
The big challenge for healthcare providers is to make sure the service they’re providing is still of high quality and is ‘patient-centred’.
Teleaudiology is increasingly also an option for people living in urban areas. Some people prefer to be seen in their home. Others may have mobility issues because of disability or because they’re elderly.
The trend towards using technology in healthcare is also driven by the baby-boomer generation. This generation are keen to maintain their health. They’re also much more comfortable with technology. They demand convenience as well as quality in the services they seek, including healthcare.
Technology has created the ability for clients to have access to hearing aids adjustments on-the-go. The days of waiting for weeks to get an appointment are slowing fading. Both Resound and Phonak support remote fine tunning with their latest products. Rumour has it, other manufactures are looking at this space as well.
Are there any obstacles to teleaudiology?
“It’s not what I’m used to”
For many patients, seeing someone face-to-face is always preferred. But, for many people because of distance or infirmity, this is not easily arranged.
Most hearing care clinicians enjoy first-hand contact with their patients. It’s what they’ve been trained to do. It’s what they’ve done for many years.
So, getting used to the idea of distance treatment, for both patient and clinician, is the first hurdle.
Having the right technology in place
Both patient and clinician would need to invest a bit of time getting used to this new way of communicating. Some people find new technology a little scary. To make teleaudiology work, a willingness to learn and a little training will make it a lot easier.
Having the right ‘sound’ environment
Most hearing consultations involve a hearing test. In the clinic, the clinician can control the environment and make sure the hearing check is accurate.
Dealing with this may be a little more challenging from a distance. Despite this, early adopters of this new approach are ensuring that this can be dealt with to produce an accurate hearing test.
The big advantage of teleaudiology is more access to better hearing health
Despite a few teething problems, telehealth, including remote hearing care, is taking off. The biggest advantage is better access and convenience for more Australians.
According to one hearing provider, the feedback from providers, patients, and families “indicate that there is a population of Veterans for whom virtual care is the best kind of care in many situations and will become an expectation.”1
They also found that teleaudiology came in handy when providing group education. This included general counselling on using their hearing aids and dealing with tinnitus.
For experienced hearing aid wearers, having a quick consultation via the computer is far more convenient than travelling to a face-to-face appointment. And often, all they need is their smartphone.
A lot of the success of teleaudiology comes down to having caring and well-trained staff. These hearing care professionals work hard to create a comfortable, efficient and caring environment for their patients. 2
As the population ages and technology improves, we expect the use of telehealth will become more commonplace. Thus, giving access to better healthcare for many more people across the country.
Any other concerns?
If you have any questions about your hearing, please give us a call on 1300 017 732 to make an appointment.
As an independent, family-owned hearing care clinic, you’ll also find we like to look after our clients and offer affordable and competitive prices on all of our hearing solutions.
- Teleaudiology – the future is now. Chad Gladden. Audiology Online. February 12, 2018 https://www.audiologyonline.com/articles/20q-teleaudiology-future-now-22121
- Teleaudiology: Friend or Foe in the Consumerism of Hearing Healthcare? David Fabry, PhD, and Jennifer Groth, MA. The Hearing Review. April 4 2017 http://www.hearingreview.com/2017/04/teleaudiology-friend-foe-consumerism-hearing-healthcare/
- Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash