Presidential Perspective

We Can Help You Provide High-Quality Telehealth Service to Audiology Patients

I think you’ll agree that one major takeaway from the past two-plus years is that having virtual alternatives for providing patient care has moved from nice to have to necessary. The inability or inadvisability of meeting with audiology patients live in offices or clinics has taken a toll on business, and unfortunately delayed individuals in need of hearing devices from pursuing treatment. Considering the already sizable gap from diagnosis of hearing loss to purchasing hearing devices (an average of 7 years), we certainly didn’t need another barrier to spring up and further delay treatment. Yet here we are.

Previously, many audiology professionals expressed reticence to adopt telehealth options for hearing healthcare. The concerns ranged from not wanting to be “on call” 24/7 to reluctance to learn the new technology, and concerns about whether quality of care could be on par with in-person visits. While all valid concerns, what was once a value-added offering has become a must for treatments to proceed. And even though the worst of the pandemic appears (fingers crossed!) to be behind us, there is no way to know for sure that we won’t find ourselves in a similar situation, where in-person visits become impossible again. Not to mention we still have patients who, due to personal health issues, cannot travel easily to clinics for live appointments. Providing viable telehealth alternatives could be the deciding factor between a patient electing to go to your clinic or seeking help from your telehealth-friendly competition.

As your partner in providing end-to-end hearing healthcare solutions, we have added a major telehealth solution to our new family of Ponto 5 bone anchored hearing systems: Ponto 5 RemoteCare. Additionally, we continue to offer our Ponto Care app. The following is an overview of both of these conveniences, and how they help enhance the level of care you can offer BAHS wearers.

Ponto Care app

The free, secure, HIPAA-compliant Ponto Care app enables you to support and guide your patients from the Trial through Aftercare BAHS fitting phases. It aims to make patients more engaged, independent, and involved in their bone anchored treatment by providing them with a self-help tool right on their mobile phone. This allows them to have the best possible trial experience and insightful conversations with you, their hearing care professional, as they move through the process. Patients are guided as to how and where to use their Ponto, can rate different environments, take notes, send you a report, and much more. For example, during the Aftercare phase, you can take the first baseline photo of the implant site, and then show your patient how to use their phone’s camera to monitor their implant site and keep notes about their progress. These can be shared with you during your next face-to-face or remotely.

The best way to get the app set up is to download it with your patient while they are in your office. It’s easy to access from either the App® Store or Google Play™. Run through the app’s screens while explaining the importance of the report and clarify when and where to send the report according to your preferences. You can also send your patient a reminder a few days before a follow-up appointment if they haven’t emailed you their report yet.

Ponto 5 RemoteCare

Hold virtual appointments with patients and provide follow-up care, adjustments, and upgrades remotely using the Ponto 5 family’s RemoteCare option. Your patient will need to pair their smartphone with their BAHS, install the app, and set up an account. All required instructions for use are provided in the app itself. You and your patient will be able to see each other onscreen during appointments so long as both of you have cameras enabled, but if desired you can turn yours off. You can also text back and forth during the meeting if conversation via audio proves challenging. As you adjust your patient’s Ponto devices, they will see graphic indications that this is taking place, along with a notice that settings are being uploaded and when they have been completed.

One thing I’d like to stress: using RemoteCare does not mean you are expected to hop on appointments or adjust your patients’ devices around the clock. You arrange with them to set appointment times exactly as you would if you were meeting with them in your clinic. This is simply a convenient, viable alternative for patients who, for whatever reason, cannot or do not want to come into your clinic. Also, RemoteCare is for touching base and making fairly minor adjustments to devices. It is not meant as a substitute for care and treatment requiring more in-depth consultation, testing, or repairs.

Talk to your Oticon Medical rep about telehealth alternatives

Ready to learn more about our options for supporting you in providing high-quality virtual care to patients? Your OM representative will be happy to discuss your needs and our tools. For general information on the support we provide to audiology professionals, please visit https://www.oticonmedical.com/us/support/professionals/bone-conduction/.

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