To better serve the hearing care needs of the more than 1.6 million veterans with auditory disabilities, the Veterans Health Administration continually promotes best practices and clinical education among the auditory staff. In a recent initiative designed to strengthen its focus on patient centered care, a committee is calling upon VA audiologists to consider the benefits of incorporating the full range of Ida Institute tools into daily practice.
Ida Tools Help VA Bring More Patient-Centered Care to Veterans
“Patient centered care empowers Veterans to define and achieve their own lifelong goals,” states the official communication. “It considers their whole health—every aspect of life that affects their health and well-being.” The acceptance of the Ida Toolbox by an influential healthcare provider like the VA is a powerful endorsement of the critical importance of patient centered care. “This is an exciting time for the Ida Institute and all members of the Ida network,” said Managing Director Lise Lotte Bundesen. “By endorsing the Ida Toolbox, the VA re-affirms our belief in the enormous potential for patient centered care to become a central focus of the fast-approaching future of hearing healthcare.”
The VA operates one of the largest health care systems in the world, including 800 community-based outpatient clinics. It is also one of the largest purchasers of hearing aids in the world. That’s not surprising considering that tinnitus and hearing loss account for the two most prevalent service-connected disabilities among veterans.
Paula J. Myers, PhD, a supervisor of six community-based VA outpatient clinics in Tampa, Florida, is part of a committee that prepared a summary document for VA audiologists on the Ida tools - Incorporating Ida Tools Into Your Daily Patient-Centered Audiology Care. The summary divides the tools into actionable categories that facilitate easy adoption:
Entire Toolbox Offer Benefits
- Motivational Tools to help the clinicians determine readiness for adopting an audiologic rehabilitation intervention such as amplification
- Communication Partner Tools that facilitate engagement of the patient’s significant other(s) in the rehabilitative process
- Living Well with Hearing Loss Tool that encourage dialogue between the patient and provider in regards to establishing listening goals and implementing communication strategies to achieve those listening goals
- Professional Resources that help clinicians learn more about patient-centered care and implementing the approach in clinic.
Paula Myers at an Ida Seminar in 2011.
With each tool, the summary provides a brief purpose and/or description, links to the tool itself along with instructions and resources about use of the tool, and possible clinical/professional applications. The ethnographic videos in Ida’s Video Library are suggested as an excellent way to obtain insights directly from patients. Dr. Myers highlighted the value of the tools in a presentation at the March Joint Defense Veterans Audiology Conference (JDVAC). The JCVAC is an annual knowledge-sharing event that brings together members of the Association of VA Audiologists and the Military Audiology Association from across the US. “I encourage other VA audiologists to check out the Ida resources to use in their clinics PRN (as needed),” said Dr. Myers.
I think the veterans appreciate that we are interested in what matters to them even before they walk in the door.
The Ida Motivational Tools are already in daily practice at the VA community-based outpatient clinics that Dr. Meyers supervises in Tampa. The Line and the Circle are included in all patients’ case history forms, which patients complete at home, before the first appointment.
A Typical Day in a Tampa VA Clinic
8-9 patients scheduled, who fill out the Ida Line on their intake forms before the appointment Services: Hearing evaluations, disability evaluations, hearing aid orientations, hearing aid checks, specialized cochlear implant evaluation and programming, vestibular evaluation and electrophysiological evaluations Education classes: Hearing aid accessories, hearing loss management, aural rehabilitation 15-20 walk-ins for repairs and adjustments done by techs (supervised by audiologists)
“The staff appreciates that they can incorporate the Line and Circle elements from the completed case history into a dialogue with patients,” says Dr. Myers. “I think the veterans also appreciate answering the case history questions. It shows them that we are interested in what matters to them even before they walk in the door.” In her individual and group aural rehabilitation classes, Dr. Myers uses the Box to deal with ambivalence as well as the Communication tools, Living Well, and resources from Group AR. Ida’s Self-Development tools and videos are also used during monthly staff in-services on patient centered care.