GlobalMed Introduces Teleaudiology Station

April 6, 2012
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We’re pretty excited by a new product GlobalMed can now offer audiology practices.

We’re pretty excited by a new product GlobalMed can now offer audiology practices.

We call it the GlobalMed Teleaudiology Station.  What we’ve done is modify the industry standard i8500 Mobile Telemedicine Cart, with an audiometer, a hearing aid fitting instrument, an interface between the two, and a middle ear health analyzer.  Placed in a satellite clinic, the Teleaudiology Station can bring hearing care to underserved rural areas.

How important is this?  According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, 17% of all Americans have some form of hearing difficulty.  We’re encouraged and pleased with the early results from the VA which is piloting the Teleaudiology Station in ten centers.  What the VA has found over the years is that distance to a specialist often translates into missed or canceled appointments, whereas convenience means that patients will keep their appointments.  This is holding true for the teleaudiology pilot as well.

I could see a system of Urgent Care clinics having Teleaudiology Stations even in an urban area.  Patients with hearing aids or those with hearing loss could ”see” an audiologist who may be across the city but as accessible as the Urgent Care down the street.  Who knows – WalMart could buy a hearing aid company (if they don’t already own one) and offer the hearing tests and hearing aids to their customers. The audiologist could be at another location in that city or a larger urban area.

Audiologists are licensed in most, if not all, states.  I could be wrong, but I doubt that there is anything like a telemedicine license for audiologists at this point.  Unlike physicians, however, audiologists don’t prescribe prescription medication or diagnose a medical problem, so there is no patient-doctor relationship required BEFORE they can see a patient or client via videoconference.  Seeing patients/clients initially may not be as difficult to overcome for audiologists.  Still, until something is done to provide a “tandem” license structure for all health practitioners, audiologists would likely need to be licensed in any state they planned to practice.