Getting Started with Tele-Audiology

The current need for telehealth is unprecedented, leading many hearing care professionals to consider offering new tele-services for their clients. With a bit of planning and guidance, tele-audiology can be a wonderful addition to a practice, leading to more satisfied clients without sacrificing quality care. We’ve created resources to help professionals get started with tele-audiology and for educators to teach students how to include tele-services in their future practices.

Free tele-audiology courses

https://learninghall.idainstitute.com/organization/1/view/101003-C1h04-c8iXZ-QAo0D

Learning Hall Course - Tele-audiology: Person-centered care from afar

For clinicians

A comprehensive guide to what Tele-Audiology is, why it's important to incorporate it into your practice, and how to do so.

Module 5

University Course module 5: Tele-audiology

Easily incorporate this module into your curriculum and explore how to get up and running with tele-audiology and how to extend person-centered care when delivering services remotely.

Telecare

Tele-audiology resources

Tele-audiology FAQs

Tele-audiology FAQs

Answers to all your questions about launching telehealth services for your clients

Telecare

Ida Telecare tools

Use Ida Telecare tools with clients to help them prepare for appointments and better manage daily communication.

From the editor

A Recipe for Success with Tele-audiology

Are you looking to extend your care into client homes with tele-audiology but don’t know exactly how to go about it? We’ve identified five elements that will help you answer key questions like: Why offer telehealth and which services should you consider delivering? How will you offer your services and what resources will be required? Who else may be directly or indirectly involved? Which restrictions should you be aware of? And what technology requirements may there be?

Client factors

Your clients will be your top priority as you consider offering services remotely, just as they are in your clinic. They provide the “why” for your new undertaking. Think not only of your existing clients as you ask yourself the questions below, but also of future and potential clients.

Things to consider: 

Who are your clients?
Determining your clients’ age, level of education, and technological access and ability will help you shape your services.

What do your clients want from you?
What are some of the things your clinic has been most successful with? What have clients asked for or about? Maybe it’s online booking or video appointments so they don’t have to travel to your clinic. Uncover what services they are interested in.

How do they currently access your services?Do clients typically call or drop by? Check your website? Are they referred by other health providers? Do they have difficulty getting to you due to mobility difficulties or because they live far away? Clients who need to travel great distances to see you will likely have different tele-audiology needs than clients who live close.

How do your clients access other health services?
If your clients regularly receive health services online, they may be more interested and able to participate in tele-audiology. If they don’t, there could be a steeper learning curve and you may want to consider introducing new tele-initiatives slowly.

How motivated are your clients?
Clients at the beginning of their hearing care journey need different types of support and counseling than those who have been managing hearing loss for many years. Use Ida’s Circle tool to assess your clients’ motivation. Think about which tele-audiology services you think are suited to each stage of the patient journey.

What types of technology do your clients and potential clients have?
Are they comfortable using their existing technology? Are they able and willing to learn to use new software or platforms? Can they afford to upgrade devices if necessary?

Provider factors

Now that you have established who your clients are and what they want from you, you can begin to create a plan for what kind and style of tele-services you can provide.

Things to consider: 

What stages of the patient journey will you offer services for?
Think again about the Circle tool and decide if you want to offer services for all stages or just some of them. This decision will be based on who your clients are and all the requirements and constraints for each of your service options.

What are the goals of your new telehealth offering?
Establishing goals lets you focus your efforts. Do you want to upgrade to a more user-friendly and accessible website? Want to allow clients to order batteries via SMS? Or maybe you plan to offer appointments online?

What skills do you or your staff need to be able to achieve these goals?
These skills could include updating a website, using a video otoscope, or being able to trouble-shoot your clients’ connectivity problems. If you don’t have the skills in-house, you need a plan for how to acquire them.

Where will you operate your new services from?
Will you need a new office and equipment dedicated to your tele-audiology services or can you use existing space and things you already have? If your services will be offered from a location off-site, what logistics will be involved and what extra costs?

Stakeholder and partnership factors

When deciding what telehealth services to offer, you may consider partnering with existing institutions or service providers. For example, maybe a nearby hospital offers diagnostic services but not rehabilitation services. Or a popular clinic has services for babies and toddlers but not for older children. These are potential opportunities for your business.

Things to consider: 

Who else do you — or could you — work with that may want to access your services?
Are there schools, hospitals, or clinics that would be interested in sharing costs, equipment, expertise? Would they promote your services to fill a gap they don’t fill themselves?

Are there data or patient security issues to be aware of?
It varies by country and region but if you are going to share patient information with partners, you will need to be knowledgeable about the laws governing it.

Government and licensing factors

Restrictions, licensing, compliance requirements, and compensation for telehealth will vary between countries, and often even between states, provinces, or regions within a country. Start by contacting government and professional bodies tasked with governance and researching the areas you plan to service.

Things to consider: 

What is the area your new telehealth offerings will service?
Will they be available only within the same region you currently practice in or will the services cross regional or country borders? Do insurance plans and government compensation cover tele-audiology in your area? The region you cover could impact marketing for your business, language requirements of your materials, and what is legally required to operate the business.

Which license and tax regulations are relevant for the new areas you will cover?
Learn whether there are additional licenses for audiology or to practice telehealth required in the new territories as well as if you are required to collect or pay new taxes.

Is there government-funded support for your services?
This could include grants, funding, or other incentives that encourages services like yours. For example, there may be government assistance to offer health services to rural or marginalized communities.

IT factors

It’s essential that your services are technologically compatible with your clients’ devices. Do some research to make sure what you are delivering can be easily received.

Things to consider: 

Will you need more powerful or faster capabilities?
Are your existing computers powerful enough? Will you need faster broadband for patients to access services? Do your clients have fast enough broadband? These questions must be answered before moving out of the planning stage of creating new telehealth services.

Are your services device agnostic?
Will your new services work on mobile, tablet, and desktop and do your clients already have these or will they need to acquire them? Are they equally compatible on android and iOS and Mac and PC?

What are your new software requirements?
Will you or your clients need to purchase new software? What about user licenses?

Investigating these five factors and determining how to apply them to your specific situation will help you launch your new services successfully. And that will be rewarding for both you and your clients.