One of the best things that has come out of adapting to the Covid-19 pandemic has been our move toward remote programming. Dr. Terry Limb, our hearing aid technology expert, explains it best.
Greetings Dr. Limb. I hear that Evergreen Speech & Hearing has been upgrading their fitting programs during this COVID pandemic. As part of that, I understand that you now have the ability to remotely program certain hearing aids.
Dr. Limb: Yes, that is true. Coincident to the pandemic, a number of manufacturers have been working toward remote programming capabilities for the past couple of years. But the systems were very limited and required the patient be in the office to set up the system. When COVID hit, I called some of my colleagues at Starkey and Oticon to see what could be done. Oticon agreed to allow us into a BETA test of their new programming app due to be released 4 months later. We were, in fact, the first clinic in the country to be up and running with that remote system. Starkey had an existing system, but it required the patient be in office for setup which few patients had taken advantage of. I called their Chief Innovation Officer Dave Fabre, Au.D., and he was terrific in motivating the engineering staff to create a path that allowed us to turn on the system remotely. In fact, they were able to completely restructure their system within two weeks.
Are all product remotely programmable?
Dr. Limb: No, unfortunately only those instruments fitted in the last few years have that capability. It requires a connection with a smart phone and a suitable app. Oticon OPN and OPNS devices as well as Starkey Livio products can all be remotely programmed.
So how does it work?
Dr. Limb: It depends a little on which system we are using. What we have done, is set up telehealth appointments where we can meet with patients to discuss their concern and needs. We can also walk them through the specific technology and process for their individual devices. It’s a process that actually attracted some national attention, where I was invited to participate in a national panel on telehealth in audiology back in March. Once established, many patients have systems that allow them to simply upload a request that we can process, reprogram, and send it back to them through their phone.
How far away can you be to have your aid programmed remotely.
Dr. Limb: We are using an internet connection, so wherever the patient is comfortable, we can be right with them. In their home, on the road, whatever their need.
Wow, that sounds like it is very convenient.
Dr. Limb: It is. In fact, we have had such a good response from our telehealth/remote programming over the past 8 months (what we are now calling our eCONNECT program) that we have decided to continue it as an option for patients even once the COVID concerns are behind us. In our 40+ years of clinical practice, we have always looked newer, better, and more efficient ways to deliver our services. Telehealth now offers our patients the convenience of service when and where they need it, while still allowing them the comfort and peace of mind that comes from working with doctors they know in a office they can trust.
This is great information. Thanks for taking the time to share experience.
Dr. Limb: My pleasure.