A patient centric Hearing Diagnostics Centre is one that provides a friendly, comforting access to patients with hearing loss. Such centres must have excellent hearing instruments for audiology tests, giving patients the optimum comfort and satisfaction along with accuracy in diagnosis. Moreover not only with the equipments, the staff, technicians and doctors are well versed in replying and handling all types of patients. Be it patients in their old age or young age, nervous or unfamiliar with their problems. There can be patients who are unwilling to accept that they have a hearing impairment and those who have a fear that they may actually be deaf.
A common query asked at most of the hearing diagnostic centres is “how do I know if I need a Hearing Aid or not?” Now this kind of question involves technical, medical as well as counselling knowledge. And questions asked those involving children are -whether it is a lifelong disability or will the child’s speech also get affected – need to be answered/handled very delicately. To an emotionally sensitive parent, brusque and clinical answers are simply not right. Such parents need support and a sense of confidence that together with the audiologist they can make the life of their child as normal as possible. The staff of the Hearing Diagnostic Centre must be well trained and knowledgeable to handle all types of patients – right from the difficult elders to nervous, hyper-active kids
The simpler questions asked are – would the patient face problems hearing and understanding over phone or about the kind of hearing aids which will make phone/mobile conversations clear? What is the parent’s role to help their child? Or can medicines cure hearing loss? Or is hearing loss genetic, will my children also be affected by hearing loss? Such queries are answerable and would not be emotionally sensitive.
A full- fledged Hearing Diagnostics Center should have a Comprehensive Hearing Test for all Age groups, Neurological Tests for Hearing Health, Balance Function Assessment and Hearing Aid Assessment and Rehabilitation with capable audiologists and technicians along with a good counsellor. Laboratory tests are used to support diagnosis in patient care as well as medical research. The test results therefore should be reliable, accurate and reproducible.
A good counsellor is required to help clear doubts in the minds of patients and their families, familiarise them with processes and products and help them understand and deal with the hearing impaired family member. For example it is very easy and natural for a younger person to get irritated with the hearing impaired older relative constantly asking for repeats. A counsellor will explain and advise on how to handle such situations.
Hearing Diagnostics Center should have a congenial environment. Pleasant surroundings make unhappy diagnoses more bearable. A clean, odour free, environment soothes nerves and calms the minds of patients and their attendees especially with children. Most important of course, is well mannered and polite staff.
Hearing impaired people can continue to lead normal lives, earn their livelihood, get married, have children and be active members of the family and society.
Because hearing loss is not be an emergency situation but it certainly is a life changing one.