Disruption often breeds innovation, and Covid-19 was no different. My latest article for Ida Institute discusses how the pandemic accelerated trends in hearing healthcare that were years in the making. This includes tele-health, the rise of alternative hearing technologies, and most importantly, person-centered care.
To read the full article click here.
The Pandemic Strengthened Person-Centered Care
The Covid-19 pandemic changed everything, seemingly overnight. Work and social activities stopped. Health concerns became paramount, but medical care narrowed its focus, leaving hearing care in the background.
No longer could people with hearing loss rely on their audiologists for everything; and their audiologists could not realistically fill all their patient’s needs. The flexibility and trust required during this time expanded the meaning of person-centered care, strengthening and stretching each of its main tenets.
You can read more about each of the four principles in my e-book Person-Centered Care from the Patient Perspective. Below, I discuss how each expanded during the pandemic.
1. Partner with your patient
The patient/provider partnership has always been a critical component of person-centered care. Only by partnering with the patient can audiologists understand their patients’ communication challenges and fine-tune their recommendations to the highest priority ones. During Covid-19, this partnership became even more critical as new communication challenges emerged.
With hands-on adjustments more limited, audiologists counted on patients to carry out routine maintenance like changing wax guards and keeping devices clean. They listened and trusted as patients described their communication challenges, and partnered with them to make remote adjustments that worked. The patient’s voice took on new weight, and with it, our confidence grew, creating an improved patient/provider partnership that is likely to linger post-pandemic.
2. Make your office hearing loss friendly
Unfortunately, audiology offices are often not as hearing loss friendly as they could be. Receptionists often mumble behind their desks or over the phone, making it hard for people with hearing loss to understand what they are saying. Even audiologists sometimes forget to face their patients when speaking to them, but during the pandemic, hearing loss-friendliness took on increased importance.
With in-person visits disallowed, audiologists turned to tele-health and other service delivery methods. When masks made communication more difficult, providers enthusiastically adopted clear ones and advocated for others to do the same. Let’s hope this increased awareness of communication issues remains.
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