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It might come as no surprise that health care is among the many social activities that have moved to “remote” settings. With the risks of social proximity, any steps that can be employed to create physical distance between people could amount to saving lives. Many aspects of health care can be enacted across distance rather than in shared space. Let’s begin by taking a look at what telemedicine really is, how it applies to hearing health, and whether or not it really works.
What is Telemedicine?
Telemedicine is a general term for all the health services that are available across geographical distance. In the first place, a call or videoconference with a nurse or doctor to ask about symptoms can be considered telemedicine. Many simple diagnoses can take place over the phone, and it is possible to limit the exposure of people to one another in this way.
Another form of telemedicine, however, has to do with using health data via apps to send automatic information to healthcare providers. Take, for instance, the biometrics that are collected by many smartphones. Particularly when used in conjunction with a watch or other monitoring device, this biometric information can be used to tip off a healthcare provider to potential risks and emergency states. Without even visiting the doctor’s office, this data can provide a comprehensive picture of the snapshot measures that a doctor can observe in an office visit.
How Does Telemedicine Apply to Hearing Health?
In what ways can telemedicine fill in the current gaps in hearing health services? The first step is simple. When you might have come into the office with a question about your hearing aids or a specific situation that makes hearing difficult, you can now make a call or have a videoconference chat about your needs from the security of your own home.
In addition to this mode of communication, telemedicine takes advantage of Bluetooth connectivity in many hearing aids to connect with apps on your smartphone. If you have hearing aids with this capability, then they can not only collect information about your hearing profile and preferences, they can also send that information along to your hearing health provider. With that profile in hand, your provider will be better equipped to understand what you are hearing and what problems might emerge. If you have this style of hearing aid, then you can call your provider and inquire about what they see in your profile. If a more serious issue emerges, then your provider can even be alerted.
What about Integrated Telemedicine Devices?
One of the potential benefits provided by a few of the latest hearing aid models is the ability to integrate your biometric and hearing data. Some hearing aids are able to monitor pulse, breathing, and other bio measures, as well as the hearing profiles you put into action in different environments. These devices make it possible to integrate assessment of your ongoing health and risks, as well as alerting health personnel if you have a serious emergency or fall. These many observation techniques can be used in combination with other telemedicine services to provide a comprehensive approach to your health and wellness, including your hearing assistance needs.
How about Remote Hearing Aid Adjustment?
A final option for telemedicine in terms of hearing health is to get a hearing aid adjustment from your provider at a remote location. If you have ever called your Internet service provider to ask for assistance, you will be familiar with the process of sending updates and new services to your home devices from afar.
In a similar manner, your hearing health provider can send updates to your hearing aids from their office location without requiring an in-person visit. With these many possibilities for telemedicine, the current technological and communications environment makes it possible to get the healthcare you need without the risks associated with physical co-presence.
If you are interested in any of these services, simply make a call to your hearing health care provider and inquire about their telemedicine services. It is possible that a hearing aid upgrade would be necessary for some of these services that require bio measures, but other hearing services are just a phone call away.