Not just the ‘next patient’

By Helle Gjønnes Møller

Much like a pod of dolphins, the clinic team at Audiology Innovations is smart, caring and loyal, yet playful when the situation permits. To nurture these qualities and express their commitment to high-quality hearing care, the team recently joined the Inspired by Ida program. 

Audiology Innovations has clinics in five different locations across the Calgary area in Canada. Based on their expertise and standards of practice, they are one of the leading providers of hearing tests and assistive listening devices in Canada. We spoke with Clinic Owner Carrie Scarff about their person-centered approach and about why people who visit their clinics feel like individuals – not just like the ‘next patient.’

Why did your team enroll in the Inspired by Ida program?

We decided to enroll because the program aligned closely with how we already do things at our clinics. We thought it was a great opportunity to hone our skills, be at the leading edge of hearing care, and show to the world our clinic’s very high-level standard of care. 

What has changed in your practice after completing Inspired by Ida?

We’ve used what we learned in the program by implementing some new and useful tools and by fine-tuning our procedures. For example, we ensure that every potential patient is encouraged to bring in a communication partner. If they can’t, we’ve come up with strategies to encourage them to have a conversation about their hearing with their communication partner prior to their appointments. 

The program also encouraged our team to have our own internal discussions about how we are counseling our patients. It opened up the conversation about how best to offer person-centered counseling based on patient preferences.

We’ve provided new tools for counseling to our team, and several of us find My Hearing Explained particularly useful. We realize that this is not always the solution for counseling, but it has reinforced that every patient is unique in their desires of how they want to receive their information about their hearing test results – and now we have more tools to help share this information.

What does person-centered care mean to your clients?

Person-centered care means that our patients are comfortable with their experience with us so that they feel ‘taken care of.’ They tell us that they feel better informed and equipped to handle the situation with their hearing after an initial visit with us. They comment that they do not feel like they are just the ‘next patient’ but rather like an individual. We receive the majority of our patients from referrals after people have experienced our care.

What are your hopes and aspirations for hearing healthcare in the future?

Our hope for hearing healthcare in the future is that everyone would have the opportunity for a positive hearing healthcare experience. We also hope that everyone will think about hearing health like they think about eyecare or dental care. If everyone was more informed about the importance of hearing health and received an annual exam, perhaps some of the stigma about hearing aids would be diminished. People don’t think twice about correcting their vision when it’s not normal and we hope the future offers a place where correcting our hearing is normalized.

What is your clinic’s superpower?

Our clinic’s superpower is our clinic ‘toolkit.’ We have worked closely as a team to put together specific ways of providing hearing care that meet our guiding principles of building trust, going above and beyond, and treating our patients the way they want to be treated. When we are confronted with a specific hearing health situation, we pull out the appropriate skills, tools, devices, research, or educational pieces and use as needed. 

Our toolkit is always changing as we stay current with new research and ways of doing things, funding programs, and even create our own ways of doing things utilizing the creativity of our team. Due to our commitment to our ‘toolkit,’ we can always offer a solution or two to our patients, regardless of the situation. They appreciate our expertise but also our creativity and flexibility.
If your clinic was an animal, what would it be and why?

If our clinic was an animal, it would be a dolphin. Dolphins are smart, loyal, and caring but also playful and creative. They communicate with each other and even with humans. We strive to create an environment that focuses on the positive aspects of what we can do to help with hearing, including the amazing options that technology and research have to offer to improve communication abilities.