Treatment of hearing loss requires an accurate aural assessment to establish a baseline and to identify the device best-suited to a patient’s needs. An effective hearing health strategy, however, depends on continued care.

Screening steps

Tracy Saunders, an audiologist at the Cloverdale Mall Clinic of Hearing Solutions, describes a typical first appointment. “The patient is seated in a sound-isolating room. They would have earphones to undergo a series of tests. We test the volume and the quality of their hearing.” Saunders stresses the importance of testing at various frequencies.

"Thanks to digital technology, a patient no longer needs to buy a new hearing aid; an audiologist can simply reprogram the device."

“Someone could have mild or even normal hearing in, for example, the low frequencies but have a severe hearing loss in the high frequencies.” Unlike vision loss, described with a well-known if not well-understood numeric value, hearing loss is harder to describe, a reality which according to Saunders might frustrate some patients.

Get outfitted

Once the assessment is completed, an audiologist will identify the device that will best address the client’s needs. Fitting that device also plays an important role. Saunders notes, however, that the new technologies make comfortable fit easier to achieve. Typically, continued patient care focuses on device performance.

In the weeks immediately following the first appointment and fitting, a patient might return once or twice so that the audiologist can evaluate performance and make any necessary adjustments. In addition to device performance, the patient’s adjustment to improved hearing represents an important challenge.

“It’s learning how to hear that really takes time,” Saunders says. “You need to be flexible, motivated and committed to the process. When the hearing aids give you the sounds back that you’ve been missing, your brain has to become readjusted to that. They’ve heard all the sounds before but they have forgotten what the world sounds like. To get [sounds] back in a one-hour fitting appointment can be a little bit overwhelming.”

Checking in

After the initial appointment and follow-ups, hearing needs to be tested annually so that the device can be adjusted to compensate for any new hearing loss. Thanks to digital technology, a patient no longer needs to buy a new hearing aid; an audiologist can simply reprogram the device.

Devices also come equipped with a tracking functionality so that audiologists can verify if a patient is using the device according to the continued care strategy. Recognizing the value For the most part, Saunders says, convincing patients’ of the importance of continued care is not a hard sell. Two key factors—improved hearing and the cost of hearing aids—serve to motivate most adult patients.

To ensure that children benefit fully from a hearing health strategy, parents need to get involved and ensure that proper use of the hearing device is integrated into the daily routine. Robust technology paired with kid-friendly warranties also facilitates effective continued care for children.