*Please check individual state regulations before engaging in teleaudiology.
Teleaudiology is the utilization of telecommunications like video conferencing and internet connectivity to deliver hearing healthcare services to patients that may not have access to audiology services. In general, the concept was intended to provide accessibility to individuals who live in rural communities. Since the development of this technology, it has been utilized to a large degree by the Veterans Administration.
Fortunately, some aspects of teleaudiology have worked their way into Audiology clinics thanks to the development of new hearing aid technology. In my clinic, I have a lot of patients who travel from out of town & even out of state to receive hearing treatment. The problem is, they eventually go back home and their access to me is limited until they come back to Arizona and visit my clinic again. Previously, I have been able to make small adjustments to hearing aid programming based on limited feedback received from an app, but this is where Phonak’s new Marvel Hearing Aids take remote hearing aid adjustments to a whole new level.
First we download the free MyPhonak App on the patient’s Apple or Android Smartphone during the initial programming of their hearing aids while they are in my office. Then, in the eSolutions portion of the Programming Software, I send the patient an invite to their email address on file. They can either accept this invitation, or enter a code manually. Then they follow a simple sequence to set up their account and pair their hearing aids to the App. The software on my end tracks the progress of the connection and let’s me know when the account is setup and when the hearing aids are paired. Then, we are set for a live programming session. When the patient returns back home and it is time for their scheduled remote programming session, They click on the Remote Support button inside of their MyPhonak App.
At the same scheduled time, I click on “Start Remote Support”. Inside the patient’s App, they can Accept or Decline my video call. Once connected to the patient’s hearing aids during the remote session, I can review their data logging to see how many hours they have worn Their devices on average. I can see the percentage of time that they have spent in a variety of automatic program settings, I can see how much time they have spent streaming, I can see how often they have changed into their manual program settings, and I can even see what volume changes they have been making in different listening environments.
I typically take screenshots of this data and send them to patients so they can see exactly what their hearing aids are doing.And of course, I can make programming adjustments, particularly if we are still trying to get a patient up to their full hearing loss prescription, that we measured using Real Ear Measurement during their initial visit. And I can do all of this in real time as they wear their hearing aids so I can receive immediate feedback. The MyPhonak app also has a Hearing Diary that allows my patients to rate their hearing aid experience and leave feedback. I can then view this feedback in my Hearing Diary Dashboard and Respond if necessary. If personalized care is what you want, this is about as personalized as it gets.
With Phonak Marvel Hearing Aids, patients who wouldn’t normally have regular access to my clinic can now receive the same level of care, even if they live in an entirely different country. The only thing that I encourage in addition to this type of remote care is to find a local provider who can handle routine hearing aid maintenance & earwax removal which I recommend no less than 2 times per year. At the end of the day, hearing aid technology is allowing us to remove the barriers for access to high level audiologic care for individuals who may not have had convenient access to it otherwise. No longer are you restricted to the level of care offered in your geographical area, or restricted by mobility issues.
You can still receive terrific care even if you are not sitting in the office of your hearing care provider.New Hampshire Hearing Care Provider Statute 137-F:16 Persons From Other Jurisdictions; Licensure. – The board may waive licensure requirements for an applicant who: I. Is licensed by another jurisdiction where the requirements for licensure are greater than or equal to those required in this state; and II. Is practicing audiology 20 days or less in New Hampshire in any calendar year.Source. 1996, 236:1, eff. Jan. 1, 1997.