Hearing loss is complex but explaining it doesn’t have to be. The Ida Institute has just launched a new tool, My Hearing Explained, that helps hearing care professionals explain hearing test results in a person-centered manner.
Based on three simple terms – volume, clarity and brain energy – the tool is a conversation guide that uses a playful visual with familiar icons to illustrate how hearing loss affects a person. There’s room for the professional to note what the patient hears, what they struggle with, and their most important communication situations. There’s also space for comments about assistive devices, communication strategies and other personalized recommendations.
“The beauty of this tool is its simplicity,” says Ida’s Managing Director Lise Lotte Bundesen. “It takes complex information and makes it easy to explain by guiding the conversation and using simple icons. It helps both the hearing care professional and the person with hearing loss.”
Designed with patients in mind
My Hearing Explained provides a supplement to the audiogram, which is frequently used to explain the results of hearing tests. A survey conducted in 2018 by the Ida Institute showed that audiogram results didn’t translate well with patients. Participants in the study rated their understanding of the audiogram 6 out of 10 and their ability to relay that information to friends and family only 5 out 10.
“The audiogram is a valuable and often mandatory tool for hearing care professionals,” Bundesen says. “But it wasn’t designed with patients in mind and we know from our research that it isn’t ideal for communicating. My Hearing Explained can be used as a conversation guide to support communication with the patient and help translate the hearing test results into language that everyone can relate to.”
The tool is the outcome of a thorough process involving surveys, ethnographic videos, a focus group, interviews with patients and professionals and desktop research, as well as an innovation workshop including patients, hearing care professionals, and academics. A prototype of the tool was tested in clinics and at a number of patient and professional events.
“All Ida tools are based on user-driven innovation. While the end-product is deceptively simple at first glance, a lot of thought has gone into developing a tool that meets the needs of the users,” says Lise Lotte Bundesen.
Helping people relate their hearing loss to others
Hearing loss is a social challenge, so it’s vital for people to be able to explain their hearing loss to friends, family, and coworkers. My Hearing Explained is a take-home sheet that people can use to explain their hearing loss to others. By making it easier for people to relate their hearing loss to their communication partners, the tool helps people get the support they need from others to adhere to treatment recommendations and better manage their hearing loss in daily life.