Picture this: Your calendar reminds you that you have an appointment with a patient at 1:00 pm. Instead of heading to a treatment room, however, you head to your office, turn on your computer, and set up a webcam. At 1:00 pm, you and the patient connect via video and audio, allowing you to complete the exam and set up treatment remotely. This is teleaudiology.
Teleaudiology allows you to treat patients without requiring the patient to be in your same physical location. This enables you to care for patients who might not otherwise have access to quality audiology care – whether due to limited access to treatment in their local geographic area or because of limited physical mobility. Teleaudiology can also be a good choice for patients in busy urban areas where traffic is a serious problem, or for patients whose busy schedules favor teleconferencing over in-person appointments.
There are two main types of teleaudiology: asynchronous and synchronous. Asynchronous teleaudiology includes the store-and-forward approach, where a patient has images, scans, or tests done in one location. The images and test results are then sent to a provider in a different location for review.
The other common method of asynchronous teleaudiology is remote monitoring. This includes self-monitoring and self-testing, such as a patient using a mobile app to test their hearing. The patient can use these apps to detect hearing loss and then set up an appointment with an audiologist. Audiology apps are also available that allow patients to self-adjust their hearing aids.
For those already aware of emerging trends in telehealth, synchronous methods of teleaudiology might sound more familiar. Using audio and video technology, the audiologist can have live interactions with patients, similar to in-person meetings. With these live interactions, you can complete mobile otoscopies and screenings with minimal additional equipment.
Another popular synchronous method is mobile health. This involves health care that’s brought to the patient, such as trucks that house clinics. With mobile health, an audiologist can bring certain pieces of equipment with them, allowing them to care for patients who would otherwise be unable or unlikely to visit a traditional clinic.
Teleaudiology is changing the face of audiology. In fact, many clinicians have found that patient outcomes are just as good with teleaudiology as with in-person interactions, and that many patients find great satisfaction with teleaudiology methods because of the convenience. For most audiologists interested in adding teleaudiology to their practice, little additional equipment is needed. All you really need is a computer, a webcam, and remote desktop software. You may also want a magnetic specular that attaches to the lens of your camera phone.
To ensure that your teleaudiology efforts run smoothly, it’s important to ensure that you have a reliable high-speed Internet connection. Your remote patient will also need high-speed Internet. We suggest that you get reliable IT help and ensure that your connection is encrypted and secure, which allows for interactions to be HIPAA compliant.
Now, you want to make sure that your patients – current and potential – know that you offer teleaudiology services. Make sure you advertise this offering on your social media pages. You can also include it in your other marketing efforts, both online and offline. Highlight the convenience of teleaudiology and the benefits to the patient: less time traveling to and from appointments, no waiting in the office, real-time results, and one-on-one care – all from the comfort of their own home.
If you would like more information about how to market your practice more effectively, we encourage you to contact AudiologyPlus today. We are eager to assist you!