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How Can I Assess Patient State-of-Mind for Hearing Aids?

Donald J. Schum, PhD

November 5, 2012

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Question

How can I tell which patients are really “ready” for hearing aids?  Some patients who seem ready end up returning instruments, and some patients who don’t seem ready end up as successful users.

Answer

Patients entering the hearing care environment may view the process in different ways. For some patients, interactions with hearing care professionals may take on a transactional feeling. They may approach the process of potentially obtaining amplification from a cost versus benefit viewpoint. In a very logical way, they may line up the possible benefits of amplification with the expected costs which may include both financial and lifestyle implications. Other patients may view the process from a medical standpoint: they have a health condition that may need treatment, and they are seeking out the advice of a qualified professional. Finally, another group of patients may view the idea of getting amplification as a major life change decision. These patients may be dealing with the question of whether or not they are ready to become a hearing aid user. The idea of becoming a hearing aid user may be emotionally laden, representing a new, negative chapter in their life.

The hearing care professional needs to recognize that the thought of getting amplification may mean significantly different things to different patients. Again, the final decision of whether or not to obtain hearing aids rests with the patient and it is a voluntary choice. The role of the professional is to provide appropriate information and advice to the patient and the family members. This information and advice (i.e. counseling) should meet the patient on the patient’s terms. Having a detailed discussion of features, options and costs with a patient who is struggling with age-related stigma issues may be counterproductive. On the other hand, a patient who wants to believe they’re getting the appropriate technology for a fair price may desire to have a detailed discussion of hearing aid features and functions.

Hearing care professionals recognize that not all fittings with first-time users are successful.  Readiness Management is the collection of best practices that can assist moving a patient who shows some level of interest in obtaining amplification to the point of trial use in a way that maximizes the chance for a positive outcome.

More information on Readiness Management can be found in our article New Insights into First-Time Users.  Oticon’s new eCaps Pro is a counseling  tool that can help professionals provide the appropriate information to a patient and their loved ones. It can help a potential user take ownership of their hearing loss to help them move forward in the process. Contact Oticon to learn more about this program or go to MyOticon.com to download the iPad version of eCaps Pro or request the PC version.


donald j schum

Donald J. Schum, PhD

Vice President of Audiology and Professional Relations, Oticon

Don Schum currently serves as Vice President for Audiology & Professional Relations for Oticon, Inc. Previous to his position at Oticon in Somerset, Don served as the Director of Audiology for the main Oticon office in Copenhagen Denmark. In addition, he served as the Director of the Hearing Aid Lab at the University of Iowa, School of Medicine (1990-1995) and as an Assistant professor at the Medical University of South Carolina (1988-1990). During his professional career, Dr. Schum has been an active researcher in the areas of Hearing Aids, Speech Understanding, and Outcome Measures. (B.S. in Speech & Hearing Science, University of Illinois M.A. in Audiology, University of Iowa Ph.D. in Audiology, Louisiana State University.)


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