To say that there are multiple adverse effects from the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, would be an understatement. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the lives of us all. Access to health and hearing care has severely been affected by this pandemic. One of these ways is the effect that it has on access to health and hearing care services.
With countries implementing lockdown regulations and healthcare services being prioritised for the critically ill, it comes as no surprise that access to rehabilitative and quality of life healthcare services have taken a backseat. These limitations have forced the providers of these services to utilise a virtual/remote platform to care for their patients. Whilst this method has its advantages, it is highly dependent on a patient’s knowledge, skills and access to technologies that provide these services. Thus, it is imminent that these virtual/remote platforms are accurate and easy-to-use. Tele-audiology is one method that was used with great success specifically in the hearing health care environment.
Tele-audiology refers to the ability to monitor the hearing of patients remotely and to provide consultation services based on the results gathered1. Due to COVID-19, the general public is more open to accept and participate in tele-audiology. The implementation of tele-audiology during the pandemic has increased access to hearing care services due to specialists and hearing care professionals being available, irrespective of where the patient is located. Tele-audiology allows for the patient to be more actively involved in the examination process, which creates a higher interest in the diagnosis, treatment and management thereof.
The ability to continuously provide hearing care services is important for improving quality of life, and is highly dependent on the patient’s location and accessibility to these services. It is imperative that hearing care professionals find ways to ensure accessibility of information, as well as ensure services with limited face-to-face examinations and consultations.
hearX Group has been a leading developer of accessible hearing solutions to overcome such barriers. hearX® has launched various solutions that can assist healthcare professionals in their mission to provide appropriate and accessible healthcare services. One of these solutions, to increase accessibility of hearing assessments, is the hearX Self Test Kit2. This is a tablet-based hearing test solution for diagnostic assessments outside a booth. It includes pure tone audiometry, uncomfortable listening and most comfortable listening levels (UCL/MCL) and speech-in-background noise3, an ear risk assessment, and the ability to integrate the hearScope device for the capturing of otoscopy images and videos. This tele-audiology solution ensures efficient no-touch examinations for patients that are located anywhere in the world.