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COVID-19 affected all clinical services in a very short time, including audiology. This service improvement investigation concentrated on how audiology services in the UK were impacted by the virus and how perception of tele-audiology changed. About 120 practising audiologists were recruited via snowball sampling. They were asked to complete a survey concerning audiology working practices during the pandemic. The results confirmed that audiology services were significantly impacted by COVID-19 and only 5% of respondents reported that more than 25% of patients could access unrestricted services, and these were mainly patients that required vestibular care. Most initial audiological assessments for adults were postponed, however paediatric appointments were often not postponed. Unsurprisingly, some audiologists were reluctant to use tele-audiology services due as several procedures currently cannot be reliably performed remotely, such as otoscopy, impressions or pure tone audiometry. Lack of appropriate equipment/software was listed as another limitation that prevented audiologists from moving towards remote care despite them believing that it would have several positive impacts on audiological services. It seems unavoidable that health services will move towards remote care. As much as this may save costs and time, it will impact human interactions. In light of 2.6 million adults feeling chronically lonely in the UK, some may argue that this is not as promising as may be initially perceived.

Audiology in the time of COVID-19: practices and opinions of audiologists in the UK.
Saunders GH, Roughley A.
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Joanna Lemanska

De Montfort University, Leicester, UK.

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