COVID-19, hearing aids, and patient outcomes (Duckworth et al., 2022)
Objective: The objective of this study was to determine whether changes to adult hearing aid provision during COVID-19 affected patient outcomes or service efficiency.
Design: A service evaluation compared three cohorts: patients who had hearing aid provision prior to the COVID-19 pandemic (the conventional pathway); patients who had hearing aid provision during the initial national lockdown (remote fittings); and patients who had hearing aid provision during the gradual reopening phase (a blended service with both face-to-face and remote service provision). Outcomes measured the effectiveness and efficiency of the service, using the Glasgow Hearing Aid Benefit/Difference Profiles (GHABP/DP) and number of follow-up appointments required. Results were assessed using descriptive statistics and error bars, separately for new and existing users.
Sample: This study included 240 hearing aid users.
Results: Remote fittings adversely impacted the effectiveness of provision for new hearing aid users with a reduction in all GHABP domains. While new users’ benefit was equally as good for blended and conventional service provision, blended provision was less efficient and required more follow-up visits. For existing hearing aid users, no differences were seen in GHADP outcomes of different pathways and remote fittings increased service efficiency.
Conclusions: Remote hearing aid fittings are less effective for new users than hearing aids fitted using standard face-to-face service provision or service provision using a blended model of remote and face-to-face care. Current pathways using a blended model of care are less efficient but equally effective for new hearing aid users compared with provision prior to COVID-19 and result in equivalent patient outcomes in terms of benefit.
Supplemental Material S1. Overview of hearing aid pathway pre-COVID at UHP.
Supplemental Material S2. Overview of remote hearing aid fitting pathway during the initial COVID lockdown at UHP.
Supplemental Material S3. Overview of the blended hearing aid pathway post-lockdown at UHP.
Supplemental Material S4. Table showing the number of new hearing aid users in each group receiving different methods of verification at their hearing aid fitting.
Supplemental Material S5. Table showing the number of existing hearing aid users in each group receiving different methods of verification at their hearing aid fitting.
Supplemental Material S6. Table showing common themes identified in patient comments from the patient satisfaction question regarding the question, “Overall how would you rate our service?”
Supplemental Material S7. Table showing common themes identified in patient comments to questions on the patient satisfaction questionnaire regarding the questions, “Tell us anything we could have done to improve your experience,” and “What additional support would you have found helpful?”
Duckworth, Z., Beckman, A., & Heinrich, A. (2022). Did changes to adult hearing aid pathways due to COVID-19 affect patient outcomes? A service evaluation. American Journal of Audiology. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1044/2022_AJA-21-00195
Publisher Note: This article is part of the Special Issue: 5th International Meeting on Internet and Audiology.