A guide to remote working in Audiology

A synopsis of the guidelines provided by the BAA and ManCAD by Leontien Pragt

The British Academy of Audiology Service Quality Committee (BAA-SQC) and Manchester Centre for Audiology and Deafness (ManCAD) staff have produced a series of Remote Working documents that can be used during the current COVID-19 crisis and beyond. These documents in conjunction with the Professional Bodies Joint Guidance (published on May 1st 2020) aim to improve outcomes for patients and give hearing professionals confidence to choose remote working pathways.

Flow Chart for service delivery options during COVID-19

The field of teleaudiology is evolving rapidly, therefore the guidance documents will, by necessity, change of time. We have viewed the 1st version (May 5th 2020). The guidance consists of 6 documents:

  1. Background and Evidence starts with a small introduction into telehealth followed by the discussion of the literature about 8 forms of teleaudiology. Starting with the audiometric evaluation for adults, then hearing aid programming and fine tuning, next cochlear implant programming, subsequently pediatric care and after that tinnitus management. Moreover, the attitudes towards teleaudiology are discussed, followed by remote risk assessment. Finally, mobile health and other interventions, such as instruction and education, online rehabilitation programs and auditory training, are discussed.
  2. Practical Guidance Remote Care is intended for audiology professionals working in the UK in clinical practice during the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, it contains useful guidance for the use of remote care after COVID-19 period. The first section includes information about accessibility for providers and patients. Followed by a section about how to carry out risk assessments to ensure that the benefits of reducing the risk of transmission of COVID-19 by remote care outweigh the risks associated with face-to-face consultation. Then a small part follows about how to assess the outcome and quality of the interaction, where they state that remote services should lead to equivalent (or better) outcomes compared to conventional face-to-face services. The closing section is written about confidentiality and consent.
  3. Checklist: This is a printable checklist about things to consider before a video appointment for patients. It comes with an additional checklist for clinicians about things to consider before and during the video appointment.
  4. Adult Hearing Services: This part gives advice and information about remote hearing assessments, wax management and hearing aid fittings. Also, an overview is given of tools, apps and websites for different types of remotely support.
  5. Pediatric Services: In this section, ideas are given on hearing assessments, hearing aid fittings/update fitting, hearing aid reviews and managing glue ear. Also, some links to the National Deaf Children’s Society website which has lots of invaluable information about hearing loss and hearing aids and some useful videos. Lastly, a table is provided with an overview of pediatric audiology tools and apps.
  6. Vestibular Services: Advice and information about the provision of remote care for vestibular disorders is given. Along with a summary of remote vestibular resources.