Clinical Lead, Evelina London,
Children & Young People’s Audiology Centre,
Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, UK.
Over the past year, the world of audiology has changed faster than ever before. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to challenge the status quo and find our new normal. Remote care has quickly risen from a concept some audiologists have heard of or read about, to a key frontline tool that is essential in provision of audiology services across the globe. There has been a subsequent explosion in related publications, ranging from comparisons of different connective technologies to explanations of newly-developed remote care pathways. So much so, the American Academy of Audiology recently held a conference entitled ‘Tele-Audiology: Theory to Practice’. I suspect there are very few of us out there who, a few years ago, could have predicted it would be possible to hold an entire conference on remote care!
Although this exponential growth in interest and investment into remote care is exciting and is forcing us as audiologists to step into the 21st century, it is important that we do not overlook the impact and the challenges this evolution in working practice has had on us as audiologists, on our audiology services, and on our patients. We know that any change can be difficult, especially in the midst of a global pandemic when we are not only dealing with the trials and tribulations of change at work, but also managing new and uncertain challenges at home.
For Jan/Feb 2021, Audiology Features will provide some of the tools that we can consider when implementing remote care in our clinics and will give us insight into the experiences of those who have already done so. We will find out how we evaluate our readiness to work and provide care in a remote world. We will consider some of the privacy and security challenges that we face when working in a remote care world and also some of the ways in which we can address these. We will hear from clinical audiologists about their experiences of designing, implementing and running these new pathways, both at a service and a personal level. Finally, we will hear about the success of these new ways of working from our patients and service users.