– An Introduction for Family Physicians
The Hearing Health Awareness Program (HHAP) represents a collaboration among health care professionals and organizations concerned about the rise of untreated hearing health problems among a wide cross section of the public. There are several reasons for this trend including lack of knowledge and access, the stigma associated when hearing loss is equated to “growing old” as well as the manner in which various providers have historically addressed the issue.
Hearing is one of the key senses we all rely upon to communicate effectively and live well. It tends to decline with age (typically like one’s sight), noise exposure (endangering employees in certain workplaces and a growing number of younger people), several conditions (diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular issues to mention only a few) as well as a result of taking many commonplace medicines.
In fact, those with untreated hearing loss represent the largest cohort of people in Canada and the United States with a chronic condition - estimates range as high as 70 million plus. Many of those are individuals 40 and over who have mild or moderate losses.
We usually track our vision, weight and blood pressure. Why not our hearing profile? Ignoring one’s condition can lead to safety and medical problems as well as social isolation – a factor responsible for significant compromises in lifestyle if not worse.
The family physician is generally recognized as the critical gatekeeper for identifying this condition yet usually lacks the interpreted hearing test required to fulfill that role effectively with his or her patients. The program therefore aims to engage doctors in developing a comprehensive hearing health program that addresses their patients’ needs - particularly those thousands who are currently undetected or treated – that is easy to administer as well as rewarding for all participants. It is designed to provide the technology and guidance required to offer hearing health care services as part of conventional clinic practice enabling physicians to recommend preventative and rehabilitative strategies for their patients to follow.
A touch screen kiosk, usually situated in the waiting room, employs a hearing triage approach to determine cases where treatment may be effective and cases where referral for hearing aid evaluation is appropriate. A baseline is also established for review with each patient. The interpreted test provided by the kiosk when combined with an inspection of the ear and a short history is usually a billable procedure.
The program provides an end-to-end solution by including other professionals involved in delivering hearing health, who receive referrals for further work up when a patient’s condition warrants. Family physicians which express interest in joining the program are qualified as to their location, staffing and patient profile, then partnered with a competent audiologist or hearing instrument specialist in a typical referral relationship. Following this pairing, Ultimate Kiosk orients both parties and installs one of its hearing screening kiosks in a convenient location close to the reception desk. Patients are then encouraged to test themselves and discuss the findings with their family physicians, who receive the report. Where losses warranting a more complete assessment occur, patients are referred to the partner for follow-up.
One key feature of the system is its ability to classify results by both level and pattern of the audiograms, much like an experienced practitioner would do. There is no charge to the family physician for the kiosk and the orientation/knowhow provided with it. The program is paid for by the hearing health partners who enjoy the referral relationship with the participating physician(s).
Coaching combined with a frequent call program as well as effective monitoring and reporting results in virtuous circle of benefits – a platform for enabling the public to learn about their hearing function, providing advertising and a steady flow of qualified leads for the partner resulting in more patients and hearing instrument sales as well as new sources of recurring revenues for the physician and program sponsor.
Participation in the program and the benefits it provides is voluntary. It is delivered in Canada by IDS Canada and Ultimate Kiosk Inc., funded by members of the hearing instrument community and supported by Siemens Hearing Canada.
For further information please complete this form and give it to a representative or
Alternatively fax it to 905-468-9484
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