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Remote Hearing Aid Support: The Next Frontier
06 August 2020 (online)
Background: In an effort to reduce health-care disparities, there has been a recent surge of interest in the remote provision of care. Audiologists have begun to provide screening, diagnostic, and rehabilitative services via telehealth technologies.
Purpose: To evaluate the feasibility and perceived benefits of providing remote hearing aid follow-up appointments in a controlled clinical environment and in participants’ homes.
Research Design: A descriptive quasi-experimental study was completed.
Study Sample: The study consisted of two phases. The in-clinic phase included 50 adults with hearing loss who participated in remote hearing aid follow-up appointments at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. A subgroup of 21 adults from the original in-clinic phase plus one additional participant completed the in-home appointments.
Data Collection and Analysis: All participants completed the Montreal Cognitive Assessment and study-designed questionnaires. All participants were asked to install proprietary distance support (DS) client software on a laptop or desktop computer and participate in hearing aid follow-up appointments.
Results: The majority of participants in both groups installed the DS client software with no assistance other than written instructions, and indicated a preference for DS appointments over face-to-face appointments.
Conclusion: On average, participants and the study audiologist were satisfied with remote hearing aid follow-up visits. Additional support might be needed for older patients with little confidence in their ability to interact with technology.