Remote Support: The way of the future for you and your patients

Hearing aid technology has evolved at a rapid pace over the last two years. With the introduction of universal Bluetooth® connectivity, lithium-ion rechargeability and rapidly evolving chipsets, hearing aids and their capabilities have changed the way hearing care providers (HCPs) recommend and fit their patients.

In addition to hearing aid evolution, the “state of the clinic” is changing around us. We have recently experienced a rapid shift from in-office patient care, to little to no-patient contact, and now we find ourselves settling back into a blended model of hearing healthcare.

So that begs the question: Why aren’t more HCPs implementing a digital service delivery model in their clinics? Let’s see what a few of your peers have been sharing and how those concerns can be overcome.

‘A blended model just doesn’t fit in our clinic’

The uptake of a blended service model, including the use of Remote Support technology, has been slow at best. Remote Support technology has been available for over 2 years now across various manufacturers – predating the current COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, the use of Remote Support to deliver hearing healthcare services while meeting patients safely in their own homes still remains shockingly low.

So what’s going on? What aren’t many HCPs using the technology and why aren’t their patients asking for it? Or … are they?

Perhaps one of more common assumptions is that the patient wouldn’t be interested in those types of services – that they’d rather come into the office.

When asked, many HCPs report the complexities around setting up and preparing for teleaudiology services in the clinic as an obstacle to even getting started. Once the clinic is set up and prepared to offer Remote Support services, the patients may not have compatible hearing aid technology or the HCP may not feel comfortable moving around the software or connecting to a session.

Perhaps one of more common assumptions is that the patient wouldn’t be interested in those types of services – that they’d rather come into the office.

But, what do you do when the patient isn’t comfortable leaving their home or would prefer a digital appointment solution? What do you do when the majority of other medical services are exclusively offering telehealth appointments, and you are not?

You CAN use a blended model – and here’s why

At the end of the day, we make assumptions about our patients and what we think they would or wouldn’t want to experience. That’s part of our role as their trusted provider: to know what’s best for them and their hearing healthcare.

However, now we find ourselves in a new clinical world – one that spans beyond just the physical clinic space and into the digital landscape – and with that comes new opportunities not only for our patients but also for our clinics.

  • Patient experience. Offering an essential service, such as hearing healthcare to your patients in the safety of their own homes – or wherever they are most comfortable – only adds to their overall satisfaction with their hearing journey. Even more so, patients find themselves in new environments now that may have been very different from their previous settings (i.e., being at home more often with family) and need additional fine tuning to ensure they’re experience positive outcomes in their new surroundings.

    Being able to connect directly to them, in their family room, home office or with a loved one only continues to improve their hearing journey and satisfaction with the services you offer them.

  • Patient & clinician safety. As we balance the safety of our patients while still ensuring they get the hearing care services they need, we cannot forget ourselves and our own safety. By offering a blended service model, or even a completely remote model, you are providing your patients a safe option while keeping yourself and the rest of your office safe as well.
  • Availability to see more patients. With the increased sanitation measures put in place as well as the time it takes to clean and prepare for the next patient to arrive adds time to the length of the appointment on your schedule. For example, a traditional 30-minute service appointment may now require an addition 15-minute buffer at the end of the appointment to clean and sanitize.

    The staggered protocol of patients in the office to reduce the number of people in the office also impacts the time required on the schedule. All of this adds up to more time and fewer patients being seen in the office. In comparison, you could be seeing that same patient via Remote Support technology without the additional time required to sanitize and even see another patient in the time you may only see one patient in the office.

  • If you’re not offering it – someone else is. The “fear of missing out” is real. If you are not offering services like Remote Support to your patients and it’s something they want – they will find someone else who is. Why risk the loss of a valued patient to someone else?

‘It sounds easy – but there are obstacles to overcome’

Don’t get me wrong – I know it’s easy for me to tell you all of the ways you can successfully implement and why you should. I also know that there are many different challenges you may be facing in your clinic right now as we all figure out what hearing healthcare looks like right now and in the future.

The past 2 to 3 months have been eye-opening and have forced us to adapt personally and professionally.

However, what I can tell you is that there is no obstacle you cannot overcome. The past 2 to 3 months have been eye-opening and have forced us to adapt personally and professionally. However, those past few months have also clearly demonstrated that the “normal” we once knew is never going to be the same. So, how do we successfully prepare for that “new normal,” which undoubtedly lives in the digital world.

So what do you do next?

  • Reach out to a fellow colleague. If you know someone who is using a blended service model and ask them to share their experience. What did they have to overcome? How are they doing now? Ask them to describe their learning experience.
  • Reach out to your Phonak Account Manager and Clinical Trainer. They are the experts there for you to ensure you’re setup, ready to go, and comfortable using Remote Support
  • Let your patients know what you’re offering. If they’ve been asking for digital appointments, and you haven’t been able to offer them, make sure they know you are now. Phonak has the marketing support you need to spread the word!

The future is here, and your patients are expecting you to be part of it. Now is the time to embrace a blended practice of both in-office and Remote Support.