In the rising digital era, and especially since the pandemic, implementation of telehealth
and provision of auditory rehabilitation (AR) using digital platforms have notably
increased. This has changed the outlook of service provision by audiologists and
speech-language pathologists alike. Digital platforms have the potential to positively
impact AR practices by improving accessibility of rehabilitation services as well as by
facilitating a more effective way to share resources with both professionals and end
users. This SIG 7 activity includes two articles about the accessibility and effectiveness
of digital platforms to provide AR services for both adults and children with hearing
difficulties. The first article discusses the differences in the distribution strategy, users’
experience, and satisfaction for two digital platforms (a static website and an active blog)
offering AR materials for professionals. Their study concludes that social media–focused
active distribution is effective because it results in more total traffic, a greater number of
users, more frequent access, and an overall high level of satisfaction with the quality of
information and resources. The second article discusses the details of a Zoom-based
telepractice initial evaluation protocol used by speech-language pathologists serving
children who are hard of hearing and their families. This clinical protocol was designed to
synchronously share resources and questionnaires with family members of children who
are hard of hearing. Authors suggest that providing AR services through telepractice
facilitates high-quality diagnostics and counseling to the same extent as that of in-person
These SIG 7 Perspectives articles focus on auditory rehabilitation (AR) for adults with cochlear implants. While the benefits of AR in the population are recognized in the literature, service-delivery models are variable, and there is no gold standard approach to developing and implementing a comprehensive AR program. Glade and colleagues provide an overview of clinical models currently being used for the provision of AR for adults with cochlear implants from nine clinics across the country. The article highlights the importance of interprofessional practice in AR and outlines the roles of professionals included on care teams. There is a discussion about barriers to successful implementation of AR programs, including distance to services, and recommendations for potential solutions, such as teletherapy. In the second article, Mosley describes the process of creating and implementing a comprehensive teleaudiology AR program for older adults who use cochlear implants at the University of South Alabama Speech & Hearing Center.
How can audiologists enhance patient-centered communication, even during the COVID-19 pandemic? This self-study is from the journal, Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, SIG 7: Auditory Rehabilitation and Its Instrumentation. It features two articles focused on patient-centered strategies for effective communication, from initial consultations to prioritizing follow-up care, during COVID-19. It also includes the article that won the 2021 ASHA Journals Editor’s Award for Perspectives (for SIGs 6, 7, 8, and 9) by Davidson and Marrone.
The first article is, “How to Provide Accessible Hearing Health Information to Promote Patient-Centered Care.” Kelly-Campbell and Manchaiah review the literature within audiology on patient-provider communication. They focus on research studies of communication during initial audiology consultation sessions. Through a summary of themes in the literature, they categorize important research findings that provide insight into communication between patients and their audiologists. Finally, they identify five key strategies for effective patient-centered communication. Each strategy is then reviewed in detail, with clinical examples and specific recommendations that can be immediately
implemented in practice.
The second article is, “A Clinically Valuable Interaction in the Midst of COVID-19 and Beyond: A Viewpoint on the Importance of Patient-Centered Outcomes in Rehabilitative Audiology.” Davidson and Marrone discuss patient-centered communication following hearing aid device fittings. They identify challenges facing patients and audiologists related to follow-up hearing aid services as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on a literature review and their own recent research, they developed a decision-tree algorithm to help audiologists prioritize clinical activities following hearing aid fittings, including remote formats for care. The algorithm was based on use of a patient-centered outcome measure, the Measure of Audiologic Rehabilitation Self-Efficacy. Patient-centered outcomes measurement is suggested as an engagement strategy for continued communication with patients during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.