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Global View of Tele-audiology

Global View of Tele-audiology

There are approximately 360 million people with permanent disabling hearing loss in the world who would benefit from hearing health services (World Health Organization, 2013).

The majority of people around the globe live in regions where hearing healthcare is non-existent or inaccessible.

The development of tele-audiology has the potential to help with the demand for hearing health services and increase the availability of services, especially in remote areas.

Positive Views

In light of the global shortage of hearing health professionals and the overwhelming need for hearing care, tele-audiology may be the most likely way to make a significant impact on global hearing health-care delivery (Kirkwood, 2011).

The technology can assist clinicians by facilitating consultations with other audiologists about complex cases (Norbury, 2012).

Tele-audiology could increase accessibility to hearing health-care services, especially for people living in remote or under­serviced locations (Singh, 2014).

Tele-audiology could benefit older patients and those who have difficulty physically getting into the office, independent of their transportation issues (Singh, 2014).

From the practitioners’ perspective, tele-audiology might also create opportunities for audiologists to reach patients outside of their catchment areas, or maintain relationships with patients who move away (Norbury, 2012).

Possible Benefits

  • Increase access to healthcare
  • Reduce wait times
  • Reduce medical travel
  • Minimize caregiver stress/time off work
  • Facilitate rapid response
  • Reduce CO2 emissions
  • Reduce costs of delivering healthcare
  • Increase comfort when discussing stigmatizing issues
  • Improve clinical outcomes
  • Improve adherence to treatment

Negative Views

  • Some professionals feel quality of care is not the same
  • Telemedicine does not allow for physical comforting and reassuring of a patient
  • Disadvantageous for diagnostic testing
  • Disadvantageous with children
  • Disadvantageous for building relationships with new patients

References

Kirkwood D. (2011) Tele-audiology offers great promise in reaching underserved people globally. Hearing Health Matters. hearinghealthmatters.org/hearingviews/2011/tele-audiology-offers-great-promise-in-reaching-underserved-people-globally (accessed August 23, 2011).

Norbury K. (2012, August 6) Research explores pros and cons of tele-audiology. Audiology worldnews. www.audiology-worldnews.com/focus-on/338-research-explores-pros-and-cons-of-teleaudiology (accessed August 6, 2012).

Singh G. (2014) A survey of the attitudes of practitioners toward teleaudiology. Inter J Audiol 53(12):850–60.

Swanepoel DW, Clark JL, Koekemoer D, Hall III JW, Krumm M, Ferrari DV, Barajas JJ. (2010) Telehealth in audiology: The need and potential to reach underserved communities. Inter J Audiol 49(3):195–202.

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