Telehealth has a reputation for being complex and technical. It immediately evokes ideas of fancy equipment and expensive upgrades – investments of time and money that not every clinic can afford to make. But the reality of telehealth in audiology doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated.
When the Ida Institute launched our Telecare suite in 2017, our aim was to extend care beyond the confines of the appointment. We designed a series of free-to-use online tools that people with hearing loss can fill out at home, prior to appointments, to help them think about their needs and concerns. By sending our tools to clients ahead of time, you can help them consider what they would like to discuss with you and come prepared to the appointment.
“Having clients come to appointments prepared to discuss their priorities makes the appointment much more efficient,” says Ida Senior Audiologist Cherilee Rutherford. “Preparing clients begins the appointment on different footing. If a client knows that they’re ready to take action on the hearing loss, they can express their goals to you more clearly. You can then focus on these needs and make specific recommendations to meet those needs.”
The Telecare tools are designed with simplicity in mind. You simply email a link to your client for them to fill out on their home computer or mobile device. If you wish, you can also embed the tools on your clinic website. Your client can either email you their answers or print out a PDF to bring to the appointment.
One aspect of the tools that people found reassuring was the ability to answer questions from the comfort of their homes. This gives them the chance to discuss their needs and challenges with family members who may have different insights. Outside of the appointment, there is also an opportunity to mull questions over with no pressure to come up with an answer quickly.
“I think [the tool] is really good because you’re in more familiar surroundings and maybe more relaxed,” says Susanne Ødorf, a person with hearing loss who used the online version of Living Well before meeting with an audiologist. “You can read it and come back to it and think about it. When you first sit across from a hearing care professional, right after you come home you think, ‘I didn’t ask about this,’ or ‘I should have said that.’ I think it’s a good idea to do this at home, where you can better think it through and you are better prepared.”
“Ida Telecare tools allow you to extend your services beyond the appointment,” says Cherilee. “They combine the best of both worlds – modern technology supporting the delivery of a truly person-centered experience.”
Visit our Telecare page to access the individual tools and send them to your clients. To learn more about using our Telecare tools and implementing tele-audiology in your practice, take our Tele-Audiology: Person-Centered Care from Afar course in the Learning Hall.