Millions of workers are exposed to potentially damaging levels of noise on a daily basis and, when uncontrolled, this noise can cause life-altering hearing damage. The same can be said about the chemical agents found in many workplaces. Significant research has been devoted to understanding the negative impact that ototoxic chemicals (known as ototoxicants) can have on one’s hearing and balance. As with unsafe noise levels, a well-designed hearing conservation program will protect workers against hearing health issues resulting from exposure to ototoxicants.
Workplace hearing conservation programs are intended to prevent noise-induced hearing loss. Providing hearing protection and educating employees on hearing conservation best practices are necessary safeguards. But employers must also monitor noise levels, provide annual hearing tests, and report any shifts in hearing levels over time.
Occupational hearing testing practices are in desperate need of innovation and modernization. Audiometers designed in the 1980s, printed records, old trucks with uncomfortable sound booths in back – these are all relics of the past and need to move aside for modern approaches that will bring improved efficiency, cost reduction, and better experiences for employees. In this article, we will describe the attributes of a modern hearing testing program and paint a vision for the future.
According to the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project - an organization that publishes longitudinal hospital care data in the US - hospital inpatient care accounts for more than one-third of the total cost of healthcare in the United States. This makes it a significant driver in the rising cost of managing disease. Although hospital inpatient stays are on the decline for many population groups, there is relentless pressure to increase the value and efficiency of a patient’s time spent in a hospital. Efficiency initiatives are evident in every area of a hospital. The audiology department is no exception.
Optical providers have discovered that offering hearing testing onsite – whether it’s a self-administered screening or a clinically-valid comprehensive test - is a key differentiator for their businesses since many consumers find the “one stop shop” convenient and attractive. Tablet-based audiometry and the support from their manufacturers makes getting started simple and affordable.