The importance of follow-up appointments. That's our topic today on Ask The Hearing Doctors.
Hi, I'm Jim Cuddy and this is Ask The Hearing Doctors. And I’m joined today by Dr. Ana Anzola, Dr. Linda Himler, doctors of audiology with Hearing Doctors, the Washington DC area's highest-rated audiology practice with over 1500, five-star reviews. Ana, Linda, great to see you both. Good to see you. You too.
So, today we're talking about the importance of follow-up appointments after a hearing aid fitting. How many appointments and, and how often should I be looking at hearing aid or follow-up appointments for after a fitting?
After a fitting, we like to see patients back at least one or two times. We're going to do something called Real Ear Measures that helps identify the gain present at the eardrum with the hearing aids on their ears. A very critical scientific method that we like to have. Then we also like to see what their reaction is and where their problem set is and where we need to move from that point to keep them moving forward in a positive direction. We also do other testing. So, we have them back a couple, two to about two times maybe two to three times. We'll do some aided testing and maybe some aided speech in noise testing as well.
And those, those two, two to three times whatever it is. Over how much time after I’ve had that fitting? I mean is that just that for over a year or?
No, no we do that usually in the first one to two months. Oh, okay. We'll see them back until they're, they're settled and we have think they're in a good space. They're in a good space and we let them sail until our, our six-month check. Yeah.
And then there are longer-term follow-ups?
Yeah. And, and there are. But even if they're taking a little longer than the three times so we let them go a little bit more just because. Absolutely. I like us to be in a position where they feel comfortable. Not just because the number says you know two to three times. That's the most typical. But I want them to be at a point where they feel comfortable and that they have gained all the recommendations and they have understood all that. And so if it takes a little longer we'll do a little bit longer. Everybody's different. Yeah. Sure. Everybody's very unique. We tend to create more of a plan for them rather than anything else.
But, um, but at the six-month mark, so like a dentist, you come in to see us every six months. I think it's very important. Not just to check up on you, the individual, the patient, but also maybe you have different types of activities and maybe we need to reprogram the hearing aid or the system in a different way and a different mannerism. Uh, to better help you communicate, right?
So that could be different professions or, or lifestyles or whatever. Lifestyles, social activities. Absolutely. Maybe you picked up golfing and now you need an outdoor program. So it all has to do with you know what do you need this instrument or device or devices to do for you. We also take the opportunity to check the performance of that system. And so we have a box where we put them in and it gives me numbers where it tells me the specification of that system. Is it working optimally for you? Not just program, programming is one thing but is it working optimally for you? Maybe there's a component that went bad and you never knew it. One of the microphones is off or dead and so you would not know it if we didn't have that opportunity.
And Linda you mentioned Real Ear Measurement. What other sort of things could, could someone expect at some of these follow-up appointments?
Within a lot of the programs, you can even check the circuit to see if it's working. It's important to get feedback from them. We can also put them in the booth under certain conditions if they're having issues. We can see how they're performing in a noise situation and we can make adjustments or change a program or create a program to help them in those particular situations.
It also gives us an opportunity to look at their care that they've been able to do on their own over the last three to four months depending on what that distance has been. And we can either reinstruct them or get some habits or see if they need wax cleaned out again and we can hyper-clean the hearing aids ourselves to get them back into a good spot.
Oh, so the maintenance will, will also be a part of, potentially a part of these follow-up appointments?
It's always a part of it. I, I want to know that you're taking good care of your hearing aid and that the hearing aid is going to take good care of you when you need it the most.
So I can't adjust well to the new sounds, is there an opportunity to maybe try something different?
Sure. If within the 30 days there's no satisfaction, there's a lack of hearing, it's not delivering something that we intended for you to have or you wanted to have. We can certainly try different brands, different styles.
I think the Real Ear Measurement, though, gives us audiologists a really good idea, not idea, it's a knowledge, right? Are we meeting targets? Is it doing what we need it to do for you in order for you to hear well? Real Ear Measurement, you're looking at what it actually is? You’re looking at gain at the eardrum. So you can see this. Absolutely. Per frequency, it’s very specific. And then that allows you, because of the technologies that you use to, to really fine-tune somebody's hearing aids. Yeah. And sometimes the patient will come in and say they're hearing something that seems out of the ordinary and we do Real Ear Measures we can identify something that will need to be adjusted and we can take care of that at that moment.
What about longer-term follow-up visits? I mean obviously, it's not just one and done, and as you said you know you go to the dentist every six months and that kind of thing. What happens in the longer term or is are less things necessary or what?
Oh, no absolutely not. I think you add up even more so. Because now you establish a relationship, it is a relationship. Sure. And so we find out more about your activities. What is it doing? Um, is it addressing everything you want? Um, and then we, then we test you again one more time on an annual basis. I want to know that year over year things are pretty stable. Or if they have changed then we re-program the system to address that new audiological need or data. And then of course we go back to doing Real Ear to measure, are we meeting targets? Is it doing what it's supposed to be doing?
So, this really is, the importance of it is obvious. The follow-up appointments and adjustments and that kind of thing. But it's also keeping that relationship that you mentioned going and moving forward and, and it just probably makes life easier for everybody. It does, it really does. It does. Thank you both for your time. Thank you.
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