In a challenging field like hearing care, every opportunity to achieve better outcomes counts.
Clinicians are constantly striving to improve their offering to consumers while juggling tight resources and remaining competitive on cost and care. Meanwhile, people with hearing loss are looking for more from their providers – more inclusion, more understanding, more individualization. And everyone wants everything to be done as fast and affordably as possible.
Well, according to a recent Ida Institute poll of 116 people with hearing loss and 61 hearing care professionals, one relatively easy opportunity to improve hearing care may lie in the pre-appointment.
According to the poll, clients want to receive preparation materials ahead of appointments so they are better informed about what will happen, and so they know their hearing care professional (HCP) is aware of their lifestyle, their goals, and their hearing needs. 54% of consumers would also like information on hearing aids, including manufacturer pamphlets. People with hearing loss rate the importance of preparation materials as 8 out of 10. Interestingly, so do HCPs.
But while both groups recognize the importance of being prepared, only 14% of patients polled received any pre-appointment materials. And the most common type was information about location and parking, which is not among the most desired types of preparation materials, however practical it may be.
So, with almost everyone in agreement on the importance of preparation, the question becomes what to send and how. Of course, the options are as numerous and varied as hearing care clinics, but with 97% of those polled saying they would be likely or very likely to read preparation materials sent, consumers are primed for receiving material that will help them and their HCP, and create better, more focused appointments.
What do consumers suggest?
One poll respondent suggests that asking patients to come with a list of “well-articulated questions can result in effective communication and possibly better use of time.”
Another says, “It is important to know what is going to happen at the appointment. This enables you to know if the purpose of the appointment has been achieved.”
And a third advises, “When audiologist confirms an appointment, it is easy to also send a relevant website or other links.”
The Ida Institute’s Living Well tool is one aid that’s easy to use ahead of an appointment. The online tool uses photos of common situations to help clients identify when and where it’s most important for them to communicate well. Understanding these priorities can help clinicians recommend the best hearing technologies and communication strategies for each client.
In a 2022 study, Scarinci, Tulloch, Meyer, Ekberg and Lind concluded, “Both client and clinician participants reported that the Living Well tool (LWT) improved preparedness for audiological rehabilitation, and therefore promoted greater session efficiency. Importantly, participants also reported that the LWT did not add any more time to appointments. This is important given clinicians report time as a barrier to implementing person-centered care.”
So, while preparation materials can’t add extra hours to your day, they may make appointments more efficient and create happier clients who feel more informed, involved, and equipped to be partners in their hearing care.