You may have heard of the Gold Standard of Hearing Care1 and wonder, what’s the big deal about that? The Gold Standard of Hearing Care is the current set of recognized audiology procedures that ensure patients receive the best in hearing loss treatment. Everyone deserves the best—BUT not all hearing care professionals provide treatment based on these widely recognized standards.
Using the Gold Standard protocols, the degree of hearing loss is correctly diagnosed and hearing aids (if prescribed) are fit to help you hear your personal best, because each ear is different and each brain perceives sounds differently. Adhering to these standards allows Raleigh audiologists to provide the best hearing aid fitting possible.
There are three main parts to the Gold Standard of Hearing Care that you should know about:
The first, Adjustment and Verification, allows audiologists to identify the exact amplification required of your hearing instruments across the entire range of human speech. To verify that the sounds are delivered accurately to your eardrum, audiologists must use Real Ear Measurements. Real Ear Measurements confirm that the hearing aid matches the unique “fingerprint” of each person’s ear. It takes extra time but doing it the right way assures the patient that their hearing aids are delivering maximum benefits, without being too loud or uncomfortable. Audiologists should also use Loudness Mapping tests to ensure a patient’s hearing aids help them hear both more clearly and more comfortably.
Every leading university audiology program trains audiology doctors to do Real Ear Measurements and Loudness Mapping on 100% of their patients. This is because the size and shape of each person’s ear canal is unique to them, like a fingerprint. However, only 10%-20% of professional do these procedures even though it is critical to accurately adjust a patient’s hearing aid. Without using Real Ear Measurements, a patient may get fitted for new hearing aids, but they won’t account for patient’s personal acoustics, and will leave the patient dis-satisfied.
The second part to the Gold Standard of Hearing Care involves the Validation of Fitting and Programming. This ensures the audiologist measures the speech understanding in both quiet and noisy surroundings to once again, make sure the fitting is accurate. In addition, the audiologist is supposed to get the patient’s opinions and perspective about the benefits of the hearing aids. They do this by completing a questionnaire such as the International Outcome Inventory-Hearing Aids. This will show how each patient compares with thousands of other people using hearing aids. The questions prompt patients to tell the audiologist what their hearing aids did to improve their hearing in ambient noise, quiet rooms, talking with others, whether they hear better than they did before etc. We then plot their answers on a “graph” that shows how thousands of people from a number of countries answered those questions on a 1 to 5 basis.
The final aspect of the Gold Standard of Hearing Care is to provide information on Continued Aural Rehabilitation. This is important because it provides each patient with tools and information to adjust to their new hearing aids, strategies for dealing with hearing loss and resources for additional support. Included in this information is:
- Improving Communication Strategies and Lip-Reading Ability
- Auditory Training (LACE), and Neural Training (Brain HQ “tone exercises”)
- Information on the local chapter of the Hearing Loss Association (HLAA)
Sending a patient out the door with new hearing aids is not enough without providing them all the information they need on Aural Rehabilitation as well as the support and resources to help them on their hearing journey.
If you select Now Hear This® Audiology Hearing Solutions, to address your need for hearing aids in Raleigh, we pledge to provide the very best in audiology care. Whoever you choose to treat your hearing loss, be sure to ask them if they use the Gold Standard of Hearing Care with Real Ear Measurements and Loudness Mapping. Your hearing is too important—only accept the best in your health care.
1 Guidelines for the Audiological Management of Adult Hearing Impairment, by Valente et al. http://www.audiology.org/publications-resources/document-library/adult-rehabilitation-hearing-aids