In light of the regional air transportation crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic, the Polyclinique de l’Oreille has made an innovative move by becoming the first clinic in Canada to offer remote audiology services.
The air transportation crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic have greatly affected health services in remote locations that normally require health professionals to be fl own in. To continue offering private audiology services to residents in the Gaspésie and Baie des Chaleurs areas, the Polyclinique de l’Oreille did not hesitate to take an innovative step by investing in new technologies and reviewing its procedures, so its audiologists could serve clients from a distance.
With a recently developed technology that is being used in Canada for the first time, the Polyclinique de l’Oreille is now offering audiology consultation and testing via teleconsultation, with an audiologist performing the consultation and hearing test from an office in the Montreal area while the patient is located in a consultation office in their region. The service is more than a simple consultation: the technology allows the hearing professional to remotely control the instruments that measure the patient’s hearing. This project is a true advance in the practice, which typically offers intermittent service in specific regions by sending audiologists for short stays.
The audiologists working for the Polyclinique de l’Oreille are now offering remote audiology services in Gaspé, Chandler and Maria, Quebec, which increases access to these services in the towns and provides regular consultations with much shorter wait times. This innovative procedure also guarantees that hearing services will be available in these regions even if they are in lockdown due to new outbreaks of the virus or face further flight limitations.
How does a teleconsultation work?
The audiologist uses an iPad to establish visual and audio contact with the patient. The hearing professional can control the equipment used for the hearing test from a distance, even if the instruments are hundreds of kilometers away. Constant audiovisual contact with the patient means the consultation can be done as if the two parties were in the same place. The exam includes a complete hearing test with a needs analysis including a complete research of the thresholds of air and bone conduction, a speech test, impedance audiometry, otoacoustic emissions and a video otoscopy.
The newly acquired, remotely controlled instruments, enable the audiologist to conduct the regular hearing tests performed during a typical audiology consultation. A qualified assistant is onsite to help the patient. The assistant also helps the audiologist through manual tasks, like placing the headphones on the patient and positioning the sensors in the right place at the right time.
After the exam, the audiologist discusses the results with the patient and explains the next steps to take depending on the patient’s situation. Within a few hours of the exam, the evaluation report is created and certified by the audiologist, placed in the patient’s digital file and made available to the referents. Throughout the entire professional procedure, the audiologist is as present and accessible to the patient as during an in-person consultation.
The virtual services offered:
- Complete hearing test with needs analysis
- Post-treatment hearing monitoring
- Therapy for tinnitus and sound sensitivity
- Ear tube rehabilitation therapy
About the Polyclinique de l’Oreille
The Polyclinique de l’Oreille is the largest network of private hearing clinics in Quebec. Started in 1996, there are now 70 clinics in the province offering general audiology, pediatric audiology, ENT medicine and audioprosthesis/hearing aids services.
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