It’s ugly. It’s bulky. It’s expensive. And – most importantly – it’s not portable! What are we talking about? The audiometric booth. A soundproof booth that allows audiological testing to be conducted without the interference of background noise. Sound-proofing is needed to provide accurate results for all types of audiological testing. But these audiometric booths are awkward and clumsy and should be relegated to the past. Why? The portable audiometer is here.
Honey, I shrunk the booth
The era of boothless audiometry has arrived. With the help of modern technology, the audiometric booth has now been reduced in size by the creators of KUDUwave to literally fit into the earcups of a headphone. When you need a soundproof booth, all you require is the special portable headset and accessories – all of which fit neatly into a custom lightweight case the size of a briefcase.
Necessity is the mother of all inventions and all innovation
By 2050, the World Health Organization predicts that 2.5 billion around the globe will have some degree of hearing loss. About 1 billion young people will be at risk of permanent hearing loss because of unhealthy hearing practices. In the United States, hearing loss is the third most common chronic ailment.
It is apparent that the hearing health need of the hour is to test more people sooner, rather than later. That is exactly what a boothless audiometry system can do. A portable audiometer can set free booth-strapped audiologists and empower them to take audiometry to the patient, rather than relying on patients to come to them. With that goal in mind, the boothless audiometer is designed to go places!
Portable audiometry can be used in community and remote settings, public places, as well as industrial and corporate offices where hundreds of patients can be tested with quick, reliable, and accurate results. Permanent hearing loss may be avoided, and those with impairments can get the treatment they need to lead a quality life.
What are the benefits of boothless audiometry for audiologists?
Soundproof booths limit both patients and practitioners. Accessibility of audiometry is hindered because it requires an individual to travel to a medical clinic, hospital, or specialty practice to receive a hearing test. It also requires audiologists or highly trained technicians to be present to operate equipment and conduct hearing tests.
Boothless audiometry overcomes those barriers. Anyone can be tested in a shopping mall, schools, industrial areas, corporate offices, crowded supermarkets, nursing homes, military veteran centers, or right at home. All that is required is a portable audiometer, and just about anyone can be easily trained to run it.
Is boothless audiometry cost-effective?
Yes! Boothless audiometry offers the same quality of care as the booth at a significantly lower cost and in a portable format.
The booth is expensive. Did you know that the cost of the booth can often exceed the cost of the audiometer? Single-walled booths are cheaper to install, but they are only suitable for places that are relatively quiet. The more expensive double-wall booths are likely needed in industrial areas, schools, for research and clinical settings, or any place where the interference of loud ambient noise can lead to inaccurate results. Setting up the traditional audiometric booth at a particular destination involves additional transport and installation costs, as well as the need for floor space.
Audiologists can save administrative costs by switching to a boothless audiometry system. For example, portable systems like the KUDUwave come with smart, intuitive software that can manage patient on-boarding, store patient files, schedule appointments and send appointment reminders to patients. The smart software reduces paperwork, optimizes efficiency, and can even reduce the number of administrative staff – savings that add up and increase your bottom line!
How often is calibration required?
Many boothless audiometers have a built-in calibration system that verifies the inserts across all of the frequencies. You can take a daily print of the verification for your records, ensuring you have a paper trail for auditors.
In the United States, annual calibration is required by law. Usually, the equipment is sent back to the manufacturer, and on return, you will receive a fresh certificate as proof of calibration according to standard compliance set by regulators.
Calibration is important because it verifies that the tones being presented to the client/patient across the frequency spectrum are within the required parameters.
What types of audiological tests can be done with a boothless audiometer?
Hearing tests that can be conducted on a portable audiometer include pure tone, bone conduction, SRT/SDT testing, high-frequency testing with masking, testing of the Eustachian Tube Function, and speech discrimination testing. One portable audiometer, the KUDUwave PRO TMP, now even offers simultaneous bilateral tympanometry – all in one portable audiometric device!
Generally, audiological testing is required for three functions: Hearing screening, diagnostics, and clinical research. Different models of portable audiometers perform well for all three functions.
Portable audiometers can conduct pure tone audiometry which is the most common choice for a hearing screening. The evaluation of hearing is conducted at a set number of frequencies to detect any hearing problem. If a hearing problem is detected, the patient is referred for further diagnostics.
Diagnostic hearing tests are conducted for those who have failed the hearing screenings. This type of test determines the extent, the type, and the cause of hearing loss. Portable audiometers can be used for clinical research measuring changes in hearing over time in epidemiological studies.
Are there any actual clinical trials that have been conducted on boothless audiometers?
A study published in the International Journal of Audiology investigated the validity of an automated portable diagnostic audiometer with increased attenuation and real-time noise monitoring for clinical testing outside a sound booth. Twenty-three subjects participated in the study, which concluded that the portable diagnostic audiometer demonstrated “reliable hearing assessments” that were comparable to traditional testing methods.
How can audiologists expand their service offerings with the boothless audiometry system?
Audiologists are able to more easily set up new practices and grow existing practices by expanding their service offerings and introducing new services. Here are just a few of the ways audiologists can expand their offerings with portable audiometry:
- Conduct onsite industrial hearing tests, rural outreach programs, off-shore applications, and bedside testing in hospitals and ICU wards with ease.
- Leverage the teleaudiology boom by expanding hearing testing services, optimizing costs, improving performance metrics, and minimizing staff needs.
- Set up automated self-service testing options in medical clinics and pharmacies and other community centers for hearing testing and diagnosis.
- Reduce referral loops, allowing expeditious referral of those with hearing impairment to an ENT for treatment.
- Test and monitor ototoxicity in cancer patients with ease.
Do you have more questions on how portable audiometers can benefit your practice? AdventEar is the exclusive distributor for all KUDUwave products in the United States, and we’d be happy to answer any questions you might have. Contact us during office hours or shoot us an email.