By Renée Lefrançois
When the winds of change blow, some people build walls, and others build windmills. This Chinese proverb has been particularly pertinent, while COVID-19 has compelled us to rethink how we live, work, and interact with the world; audiology is no exception.
We took for granted aspects of our clinical routine: in-person patient evaluations, programming sessions, and follow-up appointments. However, when in-person hearing diagnostics and hearing loss intervention became harder or even not possible, many audiologists creatively adapted—building windmills, not walls.
Tele-audiology removes distance and travel as a barrier to patient-care delivery. Recruiting clinicians becomes easier when drawing from a remote talent pool, as opposed to one limited by commuting. Tele-audiology can relieve specific hurdles encountered by both patients and clinicians related to in-person sessions. Opening the door to expanded care by potentially shortening travel distances, decreasing wait times with a broader range of appointment options; helping people benefit from previously unavailable hearing care. In addition, with remote testing, audiologists can optimize their schedules and test from a location of their choice.
Tele-audiology can enable hearing care to be more cost-effective and patient-focused for those with mobility or compromised health challenges. Patients also benefit from broader care access, as well as more scheduling flexibility than found in the typical clinic-only model.
The future of tele-audiology is happening now rapidly transforming the overall delivery of hearing care.