VA Medical Centers (VAMCs) in the Midwest are striving to provide a full range of telehealth services to the Veteran population in specialty care. One of these specialty areas is audiology. Teleaudiology applications change the location where hearing healthcare services are routinely provided and support Veterans' preferences to live in the least restrictive settings possible with the highest quality of accessible care.
Growth of Teleaudiology has been hindered by the "hands-on" approach of audiology in which clinicians believe that it is not possible to evaluate or treat patients without being able to touch them. However, this way of thinking and treatment approach is being challenged and slowly being extinguished through the use of telepresenters and new technologies. Teleaudiology is now being considered as an exciting alternative model of care that can assist patients in gaining their ultimate functional outcome.
In addition, Veterans with disabilities, especially in rural areas, can greatly benefit from the growth of Teleaudiology. Many of these Veterans have mobility issues and/or socioeconomic factors that affect their ability to receive needed care. In addition many live in areas that are void of audiologists. The results are that this population often have decreased access to care and possibly decreased quality of care.
The Midwestern VAMCs are a pioneer of Teleaudiology. For over half a decade, the Midwestern VAMCs have been a national leader in the VA for the number of Veterans served by Teleaudiology. The Teleaudiology program was initiated at the Veterans Hospital in Madison, WI in 2010. The Teleaudiology program has expanded and is conducted at VAMCs in North Chicago; Hines, IL; Iron Mountain, Michigan; and Tomah, WI. The Teleaudiology program has exponentially grown from 40 patients in 2010 to over 3800 patients in 2016.
In the Midwestern VAMCs, Veterans can be referred for initial diagnostic services at face-to-face appointments. For patients who have been identified and are interested in amplification, the initial hearing aid fitting and follow-up services will be completed via a telecommunications link in a synchronous fashion. This includes real-ear probe tube measurements to verify hearing aid gain/output characteristics are consistent with validated prescriptive methods.
A trained audiology assistant serves as the facilitator at each designated outpatient clinic. This individual is responsible for general set-up, ensuring proper probe microphone insertion in the verification process, and serves as a liaison between the patient and audiologist if information or reinforcement is needed.
This presentation will focus on the necessary tools for a successful Teleaudiology program. It will discuss equipment, staff training, risk management, quality management, and data, with a focus on practical applications and best practices.
Telehealth Program Manager
Stephanie Deaner, Ph.D., is the Telehealth Program Manager for the Midwestern region of the VA. Since 2012, she is responsible for the development, coordination, and management of telemedicine for 8 complex medical centers and 38 outpatient clinics. Prior to joining the Midwestern region, Dr. Deaner work in telemedicine for the VA in Pennsylvania for 2 years. Dr. Deaner is a licensed clinical psychologist. She earned her doctorate from MCP Hahnemann University in Philadelphia and completed predoctoral training at the University of Chicago and postdoctoral training at the University of Michigan.
Monday, April 24
4:15 PM – 4:30 PM