Durham VA Health Care System
Tele-Audiology Saves Trips
Last year the Durham VA Medical Center Audiology Clinic was selected as one of only ten VA Centers nationally to participate in a pilot program that allows an Audiologist in Durham to program hearing aids on a patient at a local CBOC. With the help of an Audiology Health Technician who travels to the patient site, the doctor at Durham uses a teleconferencing camera and specialized computer software to control the audiology instruments located at the CBOC to verify hearing aid performance and make needed adjustments.
An obvious benefit of this new service is that patients will no longer have to travel to Durham for follow-up hearing healthcare. But according to Dr. Nancy Jones, Chief of Audiology & Speech Pathology at Durham, an equally important benefit may be that Veterans will get better use of their amplification because, by providing this service at a more convenient location, patients will be more likely to attend follow-up appointments.
Dr. Jones says, “We hope that instead of giving up on their hearing aids, Veterans will now come back and talk with us about the situations that still give them problems. Often all that’s required is a minor adjustment in the program.”
So far, patient feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. One Veteran volunteered that the care was “just like being at Durham, but without the long trip.” Currently, Veterans must still travel to Durham for their hearing tests, but phase II of this pilot program will allow for many of these exams to be performed at the CBOC, too. This phase is due to begin in September 2012.