Telemedicine and Tele-Audiology: How To Ensure Accurate Testing

What is telemedicine, how it works, and why it's essential for audiologists today. Plus, what to ask your audiometer supplier to ensure you meet standards.

The world is rapidly changing and, in the healthcare industry, we are continuously facing new challenges. One of these is the question of whether fixed clinics and medical practices are the way of the future. Fortunately, as technology advances, we continue to enter new eras of medical advancement. Telemedicine and tele-audiology have become increasingly important in helping us move forward in our work.

In this article, we look at what telemedicine is in healthcare, what are its limitations, and how to ensure accurate testing during virtual consultations. We also provide a list of questions to ask your audiometer supplier to ensure you comply to SABS.

What Is Telemedicine and How Does It Work?

Telemedicine is the concept of doctors – or other healthcare practitioners such as audiologists – and patients having virtual consultations utilising online video software to enable safer, and often easier, consultations. Virtual medical consultations offer patients the convenience of not having to travel to medical practitioners, and allow for a safer alternative than having to wait in crowded waiting rooms, which increases the risk of patients contracting dangerous diseases.

In the field of audiology, there is now a need for audiologists to be completely mobile, as well as accessible on virtual platforms. With the correct equipment, tele-audiology can be practised intercontinentally.
Kuduwave portable audiometer
eMoyo’s Kuduwave allows audiologists to be completely mobile.

Booth vs Boothless

The pandemic has made it clear that the soundbooth is becoming an increasingly outdated method for audiological testing. By using boothless technology, you are able to test your patients safely while getting accurate readings.

By making use of truly boothless audiometers and technology there is no limit to the testing that can be completed. Currently in the market, there are various audiometers that range from completely boothless to audiometers that are “boothless” but still require a soundbooth.

Explore the difference between a mobile and portable audiometer.

In a comparative study between Kuduwave truly boothless audiometers and other portable audiometers, it has been determined that the Kuduwave is truly the golden standard of boothless audiometry (see table below). You can also see our previous price comparison blog here.

Telemedicine device comparison
The Kuduwave portable audiometer ticks every box when it comes to truly boothless audiometry.

Ensuring Accurate Testing During Virtual Consultations

During virtual consultations, it is important to ensure that patients understand the purposes of the tests. By being able to offer consultations in the comfort of patients’ homes and offices, patients feel more at ease discussing their ailments. It is important for tele-audiology that patients are situated in a quiet room, to ensure that they can achieve the best test results.

There is a misconception that audiologists cannot get accurate hearing test results from their patients when testing out of the booth. By making use of the correct equipment, and by providing your technicians with the correct training, there is no valid reason as to why you cannot get an accurate reading. This in turn allows for the correct diagnosis.

Limitations in Telehealth and Tele-Audiology

There is currently a shortage of audiologists in most countries, and a large number of qualified audiologists do not have the right equipment to practice telemedicine.

One of the largest speed bumps that needs to be overcome, however, is the lack of a stable internet connection in order to perform testing. Globally, rural communities don’t have access to good internet connections, and therefore synchronous tele-audiology is then deemed ineffective. However, one can employ the asynchronous (or store and forward) solution to overcome connectivity issues.

During medical crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a glaringly noticeable lack of services in less developed countries.

Read the story of audiologist Tukiso Matlakala who gives credit to portable audiometry for the valuable work he is able to do within his community in South Africa.

Questions to Ask Your Audiometer Supplier to Ensure You Comply to SABS

When purchasing an audiometer, it is important that you ask the following questions:

Note: The Occupational Health and Safety Act (Act 85 of 1993) specifies SANS 10083 as the standard to be used and thus SANS 10083 becomes law.

  • Does the audiometer comply to IEC 60645-1 as stipulated in SANS 10083 standard? Ask for the EC Declaration of Conformity to the Medical Devices Directive 93/42/EEC or the latest EU MDR REGULATION (EU) 2017/745 from your supplier that stipulates the specific make and model of your audiometer.
  • Is the audiometer registered with the Department of Health Radiation Control as required by the Hazardous Substances Act (Act No.15 of 1973)? Ask for the Department of Health Radiation Control License that specifies the make and model of your audiometer.
  • Does the organisation that does your calibrations comply with the requirements of SANS 10083? Ask for evidence that the calibration company implements and maintains a management system in accordance with SANS 17025

Important points to note:

  • FDA is not accepted in South Africa; only the European CE mark that you will find on your audiometer.
  • A mobile phone or a PC is not an audiometer. (The audiometer is the electronics that generate the sound and can be found either inside the headset or inside an audiometer box.)
  • Calibration companies are also regulated by SANS 10083 and must supply evidence that they implement a Quality Management System.
Kuduwave boothless audiometers offer users a complete set of state-of-the-art screening and diagnostic audiometry tools.

Book Your Free Online Kuduwave Demo with eMoyo

To find out more about the Kuduwave and book a free live demo, please feel free to get in touch.

Written by Darien Richards

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