The second CI Futures 2020 webinar on August 5th, explored innovations in no-touch hearing care pathways for covid 19 times.
Trisha DiGiovanni, a CI user, described how remote consultations blended with in-clinic processes before her surgery. Strong broadband, multilingual manuals and flexibility with time zones mattered, with patients taking responsibility for their own care due to greater uptake of Zoom and Skype and familiarity with smartphones.
Audiological disruptor, De Wet Swanepoel, explored the reinvention of audiology for covid-19 and beyond. Effectively, audiology, a high touch profession, must become low touch with curb-side and drive-thru options. Digital proficiency for testing, programming and telehealth is needed by audiologists and patients, with new smartphone-based tools emerging for past clinical tests like otoscopy, pure tone and air conductive audiometry.
Teleaudiology involves the pre-programming of digital hearing devices for patients to optimise via teleconsultation with audiologists. Underserved users benefit from telefitting with otoscope simulators and remote testing of hearing devices. Electrocochleography to note inner ear responses to sounds, is emerging to remotely monitor cochlear health in users of all ages.
Families used questionnaires, video calls and screen-shares with audiologists, while educational audiologists set up remote online learning tools and support for children with hearing devices. Speech perception assessment tests are moving online, as are the post-operative management of cochlear and implantable hearing devices. In short, clinical tools are opening to patients as partners to audiologists in a radical new departure for the profession.
Partnerships for hearing care
Redesigned audiology services focus to online and in-person service, with CI and hearing-aid troubleshooting online, and newborn hearing tests in-person for diagnostic accuracy and family counselling. Remote mapping, optimised with artificial intelligence, gives a framework for teleaudiology and shared decision-making processes being introduced for covid times.