The Covid-19 pandemic prompted audiologists across the country to look for alternative ways to provide hearing services for their patients. As reported by The Hearing Journal, visiting a clinic for audiological services was categorized to be a medium to high risk during the pandemic by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) due to the proximity required for the examination. Since the most prevalent hearing loss is among those in the age bracket of 60 to 69, an age group considered to be high risk for Covid-19 severity, people who needed audiological services the most were not able to get the tests and treatment they needed.
Being a technology-driven profession, audiologists have the potential to serve more than 95 percent of adults with hearing problems via alternate audiological care models like remote and telehealth hearing care services. These solutions are now possible because of the portable audiometer. A portable audiometer enables audiologists and healthcare professionals to conduct hearing tests almost anywhere. The portable audiometer introduced innovative delivery models such as:
- Low-touch delivery model– patients are examined by the counter in a satellite center or a drive-thru. The Covid-19 risk for patients using this model is considered medium to low.
- No-touch delivery model– special headsets along with other accessories are sent to the patient’s home. Patients can use their communication devices (laptop, smartphone, tablet) for the hearing test. The test results are recorded on a cloud system that can be accessed by an audiologist. For patients, this model is very low risk for Covid-19.
- Outdoor setting– an April 2021 article in The Washington Post highlighted several studies that showed the risk of catching Covid-19 is significantly less in an outdoor setting than in a closed environment. With portable audiometers that can attenuate sound, outdoor hearing tests have seen much success.
From web- and app-based screening to mobile audiometry, these digital hearing health care solutions have ushered in a new era. Many experts believe that this will be the “new normal” for hearing healthcare.
Are you ready for this “new normal” set to transform audiology delivery? If you are exploring portable audiometers for sale, here are some tips for you.
What to consider when researching portable audiometers for sale
Your first priority would be to consider the kind of audiological services you plan to offer. Portable audiometers come in different models. You can choose the perfect model that best fits your needs whether it is diagnostics, screening, or clinical. Take, for example, the KUDUwave audiometers which come in three different models:
- The KUDUwave Prime can be a good fit for occupational screening for hearing loss, industrial hearing conservation programs, mobile medical service providers, onsite clinics, and outreach and school screening programs.
- The KUDUwave Pro can be the perfect solution for high-frequency audiometry such as hearing conservation programs, audiology practices, and ototoxicity monitoring programs, particularly for cancer patients where the intense use of chemotherapy drugs might impact hearing.
- The KUDUwave Pro TMP integrates tympanometry and acoustic stapedius reflex measurement functionality. The KUDUwave Pro TMP is a Type 1 Clinical Immittance Instrument and covers a comprehensive range of services.
Your portable audiometer should be able to screen a few patients and scale up to several hundred patients with ease. Fortunately, with the benefits of technology, high scalability does not mean more paperwork! Paperless audiograms of each patient can be securely stored in organized systems which can be easily accessed via cloud technology.
Businesses selling audiological equipment and devices may experience an uptick in sales by offering customers a variety of portable audiometers. According to Transparency Market Research, audiometers are expected to see steady growth during the period 2017 to 2025 mainly due to a rise in the usage of digital and portable audiometers. Contributing factors include a rise in the prevalence of hearing disability due to ”noise, trauma, genetic reasons, aging, and viral and bacterial infections, among others.”
3. Efficiency and Efficacy
Don’t forget to take a look at the manufacturer’s datasheet to check whether the boothless audiometer’s frequency and intensity capabilities are within the range you need for your practice to provide efficient and effective hearing services. Depending on your practice you may require extended high-frequency capabilities and a greater variety of dB presentation levels.
Another important factor to note is how well the audiometer attenuates ambient noise. The accuracy and reliability of hearing test results will depend on the ability of the audiometer to block ambient noise. If you are conducting diagnostic pure tone audiometry in clinical settings, patients should be able to test at a noise level down to -10dB. In other settings such as occupational health or industrial health screens, you may want noise levels to be at a low threshold level, down to 0 dB.
4. True Mobility, True Portability
Look for a machine that is 100% portable and can be easily set up in all types of settings. True portability means you can easily take your audiometer anywhere to conduct hearing tests. For this, you will require a lightweight audiometer. Compare the weights of portable audiometers that meet your requirements. The KUDUwave weighs less than a pound and comes in an easy-to-carry case.
5. Warranties and Technical Support
Manufacturers usually give a one-year or two-year warranty on a product to cover manufacturing defects. It is good practice to compare warranties should anything go wrong with your audiometer. You should ask questions like: When does the warranty period start and end? What exactly is covered in the warranty? Does it cover free replacement of certain parts or the whole audiometer? After the warranty ends, how much would it cost to replace certain major parts?
Check out the manufacturer’s after-sales support service. How quickly can their team troubleshoot? Ask them whether they will provide a replacement audiometer while your machine is under repair so that your practice can continue unhindered.
6. Accreditation and Calibration
Annual calibration is required and is referenced in ANSI S3.6 and OSHA 1910.95 App E. Look for an audiometer that has gone through the extra efforts for quality and is listed with the FDA, Health Canada, and EU.
Your calibration service provider should conform to ISO 17025 using equipment that is compliant with IEC 60318 and IEC 61672 requirements. As a requirement, your calibration service provider should also be ISO accredited. Do ask your provider for a “Declaration of Conformance” and ISO certificate before calibration.
7. Potential Cost and Time Savings
Many people make a decision largely based on the cost of the audiometer. Understand what you are getting for the cost you are paying. Remember to compare costs AND features. Check out how intuitive the software is. Does it require much training? Does the manufacturer provide free updates or do you have to pay for them? Is there an annual subscription fee?
Most portable audiometers come with a software system that runs audiometric tests. A fully automated system can onboard patients, schedule appointments, and send reminders to patients. With such perks in the software, audiology centers may require less administrative staff.
Additional features like the automatic mode can save time when there are large groups to be tested. The KUDUwave has the automatic mode feature and the software is programmed to repeat that part of the test where ambient noise may interfere with the accuracy of test results.
8. Enable New Offerings
With portable audiometers, audiologists no longer need to wait for patients to come to them but can go where the patients are. They take these audiometers into supermarket pharmacies, malls, occupational centers, fitness centers, health camps – there is no limit to where they can go to conduct hearing tests. The automatic mode can be useful in libraries or other public places where people can conduct self-tests and then take additional steps to schedule an appointment.
Check whether you can conduct tele-audiology services with the audiometer you intend to purchase. Tele-audiology services can be conducted in two different ways.
- Satellite clinics can be set up in communities where patients can easily access hearing services.
- The second model relies fully on technology outside the main clinic. A special headset is delivered to the patient’s home. The patient can use his/her smartphone, laptop, or tablet to conduct the hearing.
Whether you’re an audiologist, or a businessman selling audiological devices, or an IT professional tasked with the job of upgrading audiology technology, a portable audiometer can meet the growing needs of hearing healthcare enabling audiologists to safely serve their patients and keep up with fast-changing technology.
Call us at AdventEar for the best audiometers on the market today.