Smiling Audiologist

Digital Audiometry: An Evolution in Hearing Care Accessibility and Patient-Centric Care

Hearing Services

Hearing loss can affect anyone. The 2021 World Report on Hearing, published by the World Health Organization (WHO), found there are over 1.5 billion people alive today that live with some level of hearing loss. Even more worrisome is that this figure is predicted to grow to an estimated 2.5 billion by 2050. This forecast is particularly heartbreaking because much of this hearing loss could be prevented by merely connecting people with the hearing care they require when it’s needed.

Increasing hearing care availability and access to validated hearing testing is an excellent approach to curbing hearing loss. At SHOEBOX, we believe that hearing testing is something that should be obtainable to everyone. We build audiometric solutions developed to support hearing care professionals through increased efficiency, accuracy and convenience. We think the most promising pathway to boosting hearing care is through digital audiometry.

We’ve worked hard to cultivate this evolution by providing clinicians with a complete digital experience allowing them to offer comprehensive hearing screening solutions, including online hearing screening, boothless diagnostic audiometers, and a comprehensive teleaudiology solution.

This article will walk you through the different ways digital hearing screening can help solve global hearing care challenges. Furthermore, we’ll discuss how digital audiometry can improve patient-centric care and expand your testing bandwidth, all while helping your clinic achieve revenue goals.

Everyone’s hearing loss journey is personal. However, most hearing loss stories share two commonalities, which are connected. Firstly, hearing loss is invisible and is often left undetected for extended periods. Secondly, early detection is a crucial first step in treatment. Digital audiometry expands access to accurate and accessible audiometric care, presenting patients and clinicians with a strong starting point for care.

Common roadblocks to hearing care are a shortage of qualified clinicians, the cost of audiological screening equipment, and connecting with patients limited by mobility and geographics. Digital screeners and audiometers help alleviate some of these obstacles with boothless assessments that can be automated, mobile, and accessible mobile.

​​It’s estimated that there are 14,600 audiologists and 10,000 hearing aid specialists in the United States, suggesting there’s only one hearing care professional for every 14,000 Americans 1. A 2013 Windmill and Freeman study concluded there would need to be a 50 percent increase in new audiologists to provide Americans with the hearing care they require. Additionally, graduate churn would need to drop from its current rate of 40 percent to 20 percent 2.

Online hearing screening solutions such as SHOEBOX Online provide an engaging and powerful first step for people first experiencing hearing loss. With only a pair of headphones, a connected device and a couple of minutes, participants can receive effective hearing screening from the comfort of their homes. In addition, online hearing screening provides a patient-driven engagement point that directs patients to a pathway to their hearing care journey.

Distance also becomes less meaningful with digital audiometry. Today’s hearing clinic is not limited by geography and can use Internet technology to deliver complete teleaudiology services. As a result, clinicians can work virtually anywhere and anytime. Work from home, from the clinic, or even while enjoying a weekend getaway at the cottage. All while providing patients with a high level of personalized and engaging care.

Some of our clients have begun utilizing digital audiometry as a recruitment tool when hiring new staff. As a result, where candidates live or want to live is no longer a challenge when recruiting qualified clinicians. Furthermore, your clinic can offer increased flexibility to staff while delivering an optimal patient experience.

The capability to perform advanced audiometric diagnostics and the connectivity delivered by a comprehensive teleaudiology platform unlocks a thrilling new bridge to hearing care no longer being determined or disrupted by space. It’s a vital mechanism for achieving the greater access to hearing healthcare that we desperately need.

Our lives are managed online. In today’s world, we handle almost all elements of our lives with digital technology. So, why should hearing care be any different?

Alaska is a state known for its untamed beauty and great remoteness. However, vast distances to hospitals and a shortage of audiologists can make it difficult for many of the state’s residents to receive hearing care. So, the state created the Alaska telemedicine network to lessen the delays commonly encountered when seeking health care. By utilizing telemedicine, the initiative connected 250 remote communities with a wide range of healthcare using telemedicine. In addition, most telehealth appointments were completed asynchronously, lessening the dependence on speedy Internet connections. Consequently, the average wait period for an audiological appointment decreased to eight weeks 3.

Teleaudiogy can also lessen the time people wait before pursuing care. We know that adults wait an average of nine-to-ten years after noticing diminished hearing before seeking care 4. Digital audiometry can help reduce this gap by allowing people to take better ownership of their hearing by utilizing the same device already used to order lunch, check the weather, or get updates from friends and family.

Technology isn’t only for the young; adoption numbers clearly show an upward trend toward more aged populations becoming more digitally savvy. Moreover, the Pew Research Center numbers show the gap is quickly lessoning. The study found that 61 percent of people 65-years-of-age or older now own a smartphone, an increase from 2012’s findings of 53 percent 5.

The significance of connecting more aged populations to remote hearing screening cannot be overstated. Older individuals who obtain hearing screening are more likely to purchase hearing aids. A recent study in Washington looked at the efficacy of hearing screening in more senior populations. The study found as much as double the uptake in hearing aid usage for those attaining hearing screening compared to unscreened people. Hearing loss was the third most common cause of global YLDs in 2019 for people 70-years-of-age and older. Without treatment, hearing loss can lead to a wide range of bad outcomes, including dementia 6.

With the improved accessibility to hearing screening, younger populations will conceivably take greater ownership of their hearing. In addition, wearables are providing more and more valuable data about our bodies. Activity tracker brands such as Fitbit are constantly looking for new methods to monitor one’s fitness, and this data is helping people take greater ownership of their overall health.

Why should hearing be any different?

An increased capacity to access digital hearing screening combined with advancements in headphone technology will likely see many, including people with good hearing, using amplification to better customize their day-to-day hearing experience. These usages may range from decreasing background noise in a busy restaurant to enhancing the listening experience of a live concert.

At SHOEBOX, we believe the future of audiology is digital and powered by validated online hearing screening, boothless diagnostic audiometers, and comprehensive teleaudiology solutions. Learn more about how digital audiometry can improve the patient experience while expanding your growth opportunities by connecting with us.

Sources

  1. https://www.hearingtracker.com/pro-news/where-are-all-the-audiologists#:~:text=In%202021%2C%20WHO’s%20World%20Report,is%20nothing%20short%20of%20terrifying
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23739060/
  3. Emmett SD, Robler SK, Wang N-Y, Labrique A, Gallo JJ, Hofstetter P. Hearing Norton Sound: a community randomised trial protocol to
  4. Davis A, Smith P, Ferguson M, Stephens D, Gianopoulos I. Acceptability, benefit and costs of early screening for hearing disability: a study of potential screening tests and models. Health Technology Assessment. 2007;11(42).
  5. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2022/01/13/share-of-those-65-and-older-who-are-tech-users-has-grown-in-the-past-decade/
  6. Carpena NT, Lee MY. Genetic Hearing Loss and Gene Therapy. Genomics Inform 2018;16(4).
  7. https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/world-report-on-hearing?utm_source=hearingtracker.com
  8. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/09/220920115601.htm
  9. McMahon CM, Gopinath B, Schneider J, Reath J, Hickson L, Leeder SR, et al. The need for improved detection and management of adult-onset hearing loss in Australia. Int Otolaryngol. 2013;2013
  10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17030153/