Location independent, tele-audiology enabled and fully boothless, the Kuduwave portable audiometer has been empowering audiologists globally in their work for over a decade now.
We met up with South African mobile audiologist Michelle Ash to gather her personal insights on how the Kuduwave benefits her work. Michelle divides her time between her three practices in the towns of Plettenberg Bay, Knysna and Sedgefield. With her trusty diagnostic Kuduwave Pro portable audiometer by her side, Michelle tests and diagnoses patients in their homes, in hospitals, frail care centres and more.
For Michelle, offering a supportive testing environment for her clients is non negotiable, and her Kuduwave portable audiometer has helped her create a practice where clients feel safe, heard and supported.
In this article, Michelle tells us more about her practice and her work as a mobile audiologist, and shares how her Kuduwave is empowering her to offer enhanced patient care on a daily basis.
Could you describe a typical workday?
A typical workday for me is divided between new patients and follow-up patients. Every new patient I see needs to have their hearing assessed. Everything that is required during a hearing assessment, I use my Kuduwave for. I use it daily, because I see new patients every day.
What made you decide to work between three practices, rather than from just one fixed location?
Before I opened my own practice, I was working between Plettenberg Bay and Knysna. So, when I wanted to open my own practice, I already had an existing client base in Plett. I therefore needed a system that could accommodate both practices.
The Sedgefield practice was offered to me about a year later and, since my practice was already essentially portable, a third practice was easy to incorporate.
Using a diagnostic portable audiometer like my Kuduwave Pro made it easy for me to establish a footprint in the area, and to service clients that I already had a relationship with, or that knew about me and my services.
As I had a mobile audiology practice, it just made business sense for me to also have portable audiology equipment.
What’s the most important benefit your Kuduwave adds to your practice?
For me, the biggest advantage to using a Kuduwave portable audiometer is that I’m able to work in such close proximity to my clients; that they’re not “hidden away” from me.
I often find that clients already arrive with some anxiety about what’s going to happen during the hearing assessment. Using my Kuduwave, I’m not putting them away somewhere in a box. I am sitting right next to them, I can touch them, and if I sense that they might be a bit anxious, I can reassure them that I’m right there. I feel it is so important that my clients know that we are in this together.
Starting out, when I was giving thought to the client-experience aspect of my work, this was very important to me. I didn’t ever want clients to feel that it was an “us and them” situation. So, my entire operation was designed this way from the outset, and this is essentially what the Kuduwave brings to me and my practice. It allows me this closeness, this intimacy with my clients, and that is exactly what I was looking for.
Would you recommend the Kuduwave portable audiometer as an addition to traditional audiology practices?
I definitely would recommend the Kuduwave as an additional option for any traditional audiology practice. The reason is that this unique medical technology device is highly portable.
In my line of work, there are many patients that have mobility issues, or are unwell in other aspects. For individuals like this, it can be very difficult to physically go and see an audiologist at their practice, and often there is simply no-one that can assist them.
My portable Kuduwave allows me to get to patients that are bedridden, or who have mobility issues. In a traditional audiology practice, if you have a way of getting to people, it just opens another avenue to assist those patients who aren’t mobile, but require your services.
So I think a portable, diagnostic Kuduwave boothless audiometer would be a great asset for any audiology practice, traditional or mobile.
Can you share with us one example of where your Kuduwave has enabled you to offer enhanced patient care?
About three months ago I had a request to go and see a patient who was bedridden and completely immobile. She hadn’t left her room in months, and she was going to remain bedridden, as she had mobility issues.
Her focus was to watch television, it’s what kept her busy and it was her company. But, as her hearing was declining, she was finding it increasingly difficult to do this.
So, with me being able to go and do a diagnostic assessment using my Kuduwave portable audiometer, I could fit her with the necessary hearing devices. This patient is now once again able to watch television quite comfortably, and she’s got her quality of life back.
Are you aware of any perceptions or perhaps misperceptions about the Kuduwave portable audiometer?
Yes, this is actually something that comes up quite often. As peers we are naturally interested in how our colleagues are going about their work. Unfortunately, generally, there is a rather negative industry perception of the Kuduwave. Many of my peers assume that it is an inferior means of assessing patients, and that it doesn’t meet the gold standard for best practice in audiology. So yes, these industry misperceptions about the Kuduwave do exist.
Unfortunately, it’s quite difficult to convince peers who make use of traditional sound booths that the Kuduwave is a trustworthy alternative, as some audiologists tend to have very fixed views about how this kind of work should be conducted. They prefer to stick to the traditional way of doing things, making use of the audiometric sound booth.
Of course I understand they feel that, in order to do a good diagnostic hearing assessment, they need access to a sound-treated environment. But, in my opinion, there are alternatives that still allow you to do a good diagnostic hearing assessment without having to use a traditional sound booth.
What is your take on the value of mobile hearing apps and where do you feel they fit into the hearing healthcare landscape?
The mobile hearing apps that I’m aware of are really for screening purposes only. The purpose of these apps is to give users an idea of whether there might, or might not be, a hearing issue that needs to be further diagnostically assessed.
As with everything, I think there is a place for these apps, and in areas that are very remote, I suppose they can be used to make quick, very basic hearing assessments.
I think mobile hearing apps are better than nothing, it’s a step up from clicking your fingers and asking a patient “can you hear me?” - the most basic form of hearing assessment that I’ve seen GPs do.
I think there is a place for mobile hearing apps, but I do not think they are in any way comparable to, or will ever be a true alternative or viable replacement for a full diagnostic hearing assessment where an audiologist is doing air conduction or bone conduction testing, and tympanometry.
Would you agree with claims that mobile hearing apps are a low-cost alternative to the Kuduwave portable audiometer?
I don’t think any mobile hearing app available today is an alternative to diagnostic hearing assessment testing, and the Kuduwave portable audiometer is a diagnostic assessment tool.
So no, I would not agree that any mobile hearing app is an alternative to the Kuduwave. That would be like comparing apples and oranges.
What is your opinion on the suitability of using the Kuduwave portable audiometer for hearing conservation screening in mines, on oil rigs, in casinos and the like?
I think the Kuduwave portable audiometer is highly suited for this type of hearing screening, and that is really what you want as an audiologist - you want more and more people to be screened, so you can get more people’s hearing assessed as early as possible. And where are the best places to do that? In workplace environments and in school environments.
So, yes, I would agree that the Kuduwave is highly suited for hearing screening in workplace environments.
Learn More About the Kuduwave and Book a FREE Demo
Created by South African medical technology company eMoyo, the Kuduwave has revolutionised hearing healthcare by enabling users to test and diagnose patients’ hearing with a clinically validated diagnostic audiometer that is not only highly portable, but highly accurate too.
The subject of numerous published scientific studies, the Kuduwave facilitates increased patient reach and enhanced patient care by enabling audiologists, clinicians and other hearing healthcare practitioners to travel to patients in remote areas, in hospitals and frail care centres, to conduct diagnostic hearing tests – in just about any setting or location.
In fact, a specially adapted Kuduwave Pro portable audiometer is currently being used aboard NASA’s International Space Station, where astronauts are using the tele-audiology enabled audiometer to conduct self-testing.
For more information and to book a free Kuduwave demo, please feel free to get in touch.