Our Regrets are Becoming our Desires to Transform Hearing Healthcare
Firstly, we’re sorry, so sorry we can’t see you face to face. Over the last four weeks, we have developed our services to continue to provide help, albeit from a minimum distance of 2 metres.
It felt odd at the beginning but your needs, became our must. Although this new normal is far removed from our preferred way of working – at least for the near/mid term future it’s a temporary workable solution. It’s being improved day-by-day and based on your feedback, it’s working really well.
Many patients rely on audiological diagnosis and support to remain connected and when your sense of hearing becomes disrupted, you become isolated – something we’re all acutely aware of these days. This leads to anxiety and depression. We are continually fed information designed to strengthen our wellness – through physical fitness & mental health.
Can you imagine being stuck at home unable to communicate with Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp with your friends, family, and colleagues? Unable to hear these messages, unable to keep up with the news, unable to stay connected.
It is because hearing is one of our most important senses, the UK Government has identified audiology as an essential service. Officially published mandatory guidelines state that “where maintaining 2 metres distance is not possible, this should only be carried out to obtain essential clinical information, must be justified as an urgent clinical need and all contact time minimised”. The guidlines continue: “All efforts should be taken to maintain as much distance as possible throughout an appointment.” Our door must remain locked and we must only allow one person on the premises at a time. Crucially, audiologists and patients must wear full personal protection equipment (PPE) for the duration of any appointment. The nationwide shortage on PPE is well publicised and we are unable to source this at present. If we could, we might be diverting this from the NHS frontline. So we regret we can’t see you face to face but hopefully you’ll now understand why.
EVOLUTIONARY HEARING CARE MAY HAVE ARRIVED
As a leading independent practice, we are challenged with maintaining the highest standards of clinical care and best practices whilst also helping people which is why over the next two weeks, we’re experimenting with evolving hearing care to provide hearing treatment equipment to people remotely.
We’ve been tasked with carrying out remote hearing testing where we will be in our consulting room and our patient will be at home. Using special apps and technology supported by the social media and communication channels we all use, we’ll be carrying out consultations and crucially carrying out hearing evaluations and fit hearing aids to those in need. All without the patient leaving home and without us breaching the critical 2 metre distance rule or taking PPE from the NHS.
We’re hoping to trial this concept in Hertfordshire, Kent and even Luxembourg. Across town, across country and across borders.
Although this new technology isn’t designed to replace the need to full detailed testing in clinic, we see this is an interim measure to help those who need our help now.
We’ll let you know how we get on.