You’ve probably heard the term telehealth recently especially during the last few months as we navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic. You may have also heard terms like “telepractise,” “telemedicine,” “e-health” and “remote care.” These terms are sometimes used interchangeably, and all mean roughly the same thing – providing health care from a distance, whether it be on the phone, through videochat or instant messaging, where the patient is not physically in the clinic.
Many areas of healthcare have adopted different models for telehealth. You may have already experienced telehealth with your family doctor during the last few months. The field of audiology has also begun to include telehealth. This actually started long before the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve known for quite some time the benefits of being able to provide services through telehealth; but now, more than ever it’s becoming increasingly common as we try to limit face-to-face interactions as much as possible.
So how does telehealth work with my hearing and hearing aids?
Telehealth can be done in a variety of ways in hearing healthcare. Hearing aid evaluation appointments as well as follow-up appointments that focus mostly on counselling can be done over the phone. There’s no need to download any technology or have any extra devices. A cell phone or land-line phone will do!
What if you live over an hour away from the clinic and you need a quick adjustment to your hearing aid settings? We now have the ability to make certain fine-tuning adjustments remotely. Maybe your hearing aid needs to be turned up or down slightly – we can do that! Perhaps your hearing aids are squealing - believe it or not, we can run feedback tests remotely, too! As the fitting software continues to evolve, we will be able to do more and more from a distance.
Check out the videos below for a snapshot of what telehealth in audiology looks like!
When it comes to remote programming of hearing devices, this requires the use of a smartphone or tablet. You’ll also need to download an app. Some patients are very “techy” and are eager to adapt to this type of hearing healthcare. We understand that not all patients will have these devices or may not feel comfortable downloading and using these apps – and that’s totally okay. Not all forms of telehealth are for everyone!
So what does telehealth mean for audiology?
There’s no doubt that no matter how advanced our technology becomes, telehealth will never fully replace the need for in-person visits to our clinics. Services like wax removal, impressions for hearing aids and custom hearing protection will always need to be done in the clinic as there is no safe or effective way to do so otherwise. Telehealth is not meant to replace our traditional model of care, it’s meant to supplement it. While the COVID-19 pandemic has jump-started the demand for telehealth, we know that once the pandemic is over, telehealth will be here to stay.
Our clinics currently provide remote hearing aid programming for Widex, Oticon, and Phonak hearing aids.
For more information give us a call at 902-865-4455 or 902-465-4334!