Telehearing Care: Party Like it’s 2020

In the March/April 2020 issue of Audiology Today, the magazine published by the American Academy of Audiology, an article titled, “Party Like it’s 1999,” featured a comparison of 1999 predictions on the future of the audiology profession from top leaders in audiology with today’s 2020 professional status. Revealing their hindsight perspective on those predictions, the authors humbly and humorously fessed-up to whether they were on or off the mark of where audiology would be 20 years into this new millennium. The reflection views on the then versus now are enlightening.

Lisa Hunter, Ph.D., professor at the University of Cincinnati, cautiously remarked that 20 years ago she predicted that the doctoral status of audiologists would grow slowly into the title through the integration of evolved procedures that define best practices in audiology. Unfortunately, commenting on her current students’ externship experiences, she indicated that to her things had not progressed in hearing care at all stating, “By and large, these students are witnessing audiology practices similar to what I saw 30 or more years ago.” The tone in the statement reflects caution in the lack of progression in the profession. In a similar light, David Fabry, Ph.D., Editor in Chief of Audiology Today, commented that, “Telemedicine is easier than ever and yet clinicians have not adopted it widely as a means to combat commoditization of their role in hearing health care.”

Dr. Fabry’s sentence springboards the discussion of, “Can I still party like it’s 1999 in 2020?” Well, “not really” is the answer. However, you can party like it’s 2020 in 2020.

The hearing healthcare environment is rapidly changing, and hearing care providers must change with it. The best way to adapt is to implement modern methods of providing services. Utilizing technology in the form of Your Telehearing Care is the most logical and easiest method to pursue. There are so many reasons why this modern method of hearing healthcare can benefit a practice and the patients they serve.
First and foremost, preparing for the now. When limiting the exposure of human contact is required, such as with COVID-19, the use of smartphones for remote basic programming and counseling is a huge benefit for patients. However, the ability to examine patients to determine needs or to apply sophisticated programming adjustments requires patient access to in-clinic services. With Your Telehearing Care, minimal human exposure is achieved. Essentially, a practice owner or provider, centralized at home or at a main office, can perform 360º of audiology services to new and current patients located at another practice site with the help of only one other person in the office where the patient is located. By combining minimal physical contact with proactive infection control procedures, a clinic can adhere to best practices in a safe environment. Approaching business operations the same way as in 1999 isn’t viable in today’s hearing healthcare payor landscape.  Seniors continuously move from private pay to third party payor/administrator (TPA) entities, as made evident by expanding Medicare Advantage enrollment over the past decade. At the same time, networks that manage the hearing aid benefits from the TPAs entice enrollment by offering significantly reduced and inclusive hearing aid pricing to their members with the members purchasing the hearing aids directly from them. The in-network provider simply receives a dispensing fee to deliver and service the hearing aids. In order ensure a successful business today and in the future, clinicians must modernize operations by maximizing schedule efficiency and utilizing human resources effectively while maintaining quality patient care. Your Telehearing Care is the solution to navigate this modern landscape. Another 1999 tradition still prevalent today is that practice owners service patients who travel up to 90 minutes one-way to receive care or the owner/employee travels a similar amount of time to a satellite office to provide services in that area. The question is “Why?” Isn’t that what we did 30 years ago? Windshield time is a significant obstacle to a productive day, and can have negative side effects for both the provider and the patient.
Driving a long distance in order to make it on time to an appointment typically includes time-robbing obstacles – bad weather, heavy traffic, needing to stop to refuel, etc. And, senior patients face additional personal challenges including eyestrain fatigue from poor eyesight, frequent stops due to incontinence issues, and securing transportation for the trip if they don’t drive themselves. The inconvenience of extensive travel for anyone promotes negative emotional side effects of increased anxiety, stress, fatigue, and frustration.
Implementing Your Telehearing Care within hearing care clinics stops bugs on windshields…and more. Patients welcome innovations in healthcare, especially amidst COVID-19, that are designed to secure their safety while maintaining comfort, convenience, and quality of care. Complete 360º audiology and hearing care, delivered interactively from provider to patient, enables providers to continue to be the experts in hearing healthcare now and in the future. Survey responses from patients who have experienced Your Telehearing Care are overwhelmingly positive regardless of age of patient. Let’s get the party started.  

About the Author

Suzanne Younker, Au.D. is a 30-year audiologist with extensive experience in Quality Assurance, Customer Service, and Operations in the corporate environment. In the past 7-years, Dr. Younker has devoted her career to cultivating full-service TeleHealth/TeleAudiology methods in the hearing healthcare industry including research, education, protocol development, implantation, provider and facilitator training, and patient engagement techniques. Currently, Dr. Younker is the Director of TeleHealth for Your Hearing Network, leading a team with a turnkey solution for a modern method of healthcare towards a successful outcome for your practice.