The world has changed for the foreseeable future due to the coronavirus pandemic. Even as several societies re-open their economies and public spaces tentatively, the way businesses operate needs to meet the new reality of a highly infectious respiratory disease for which there is no cure or vaccine at present.
For hearing care professionals (HCPs) in particular, this “new normal” poses a big set of challenges – but also opportunities. This is because the vast majority of HCPs’ customers are at higher risk from the virus due to their age and/or underlying health conditions such as high blood pressure, which often occurs in combination with hearing loss. As providers of an essential health service, HCPs are at the forefront of finding innovative, responsible ways to serve hard-of-hearing people’s needs as safely and reassuringly as possible.
The good news is that as an HCP working in this challenging new world, you are not alone. Signia is drawing on its global expertise and supply chains to support your practice with a range of options and recommendations.
New ways of working
Our changed world due to coronavirus will require new ways of working to protect public health and enable businesses to operate effectively. That means that the traditional journey that you undertake with every new hearing aid wearer will be changed too.
This starts with pre-screening patients on the phone to identify potentially infected people before they enter your store. The following questions will prove useful:
- Has the patient traveled to any affected country in the past two weeks?
- Does the patient have any flu-like symptoms or have they been exposed to anyone who else with flu-like symptoms?
- Does the patient have a raised temperature?
- Has the patient got a new continuous cough?
The answers to these questions will allow you to ensure that no one with active symptoms or who has been exposed to someone with active symptoms books an appointment. However, as people with COVID-19 are infectious before they start showing symptoms, this important pre-screening alone is not enough.
Physical distancing protects patients and colleagues
To protect both your patients and your colleagues from the virus, unprecedented steps are required in the clinic to reduce physical attendance to the absolute minimum. This means a fundamentally new way of working to avoid performing services with the patient in the clinic – including clean and care, minor repairs like receiver changes, and even fine-tuning hearing aids.
Depending on your location, introducing a drop-off service at the roadside or car park could let you meet your clients’ needs and ensure physical distancing. To limit exposure, it’s a good idea to arrange appointments with patients to arrive at a particular time for a drop-off. Always receive or hand over the items outside and remember to take full hygiene precautions to protect each other from infection. Never touch hearing aids without completely wiping them down with alcohol wipes. Unbag them onto a large alcohol wipe, bin the bag and then use alcohol sanitizer to clean your hands. Once the issue has been resolved, place the hearing aids into a new clean bag before returning them either at the drop-off/collection point or via the mail.
All new ways of working to reduce physical attendance at your clinic will enable you to introduce 15-minute buffer times to thoroughly disinfect all surfaces between those patients who have no alternative but to visit you in person. You need to be exceptionally careful about how you offer in-person appointments and ensure all staff are clear on the process that you decide on. Your patients too should be informed of these buffer periods to ensure social distancing and hygiene regulations are adhered to and the infection risks are mitigated effectively.
The advantages of remote hearing care
A major opportunity to help you master physical distancing expertly is by taking advantage of the remote hearing care features of hearing aids wherever possible. By initiating a full remote hearing care strategy, you can provide an exemplary service to people with hearing loss who are reluctant or unable to go outside for fear of contracting the virus.
Signia TeleCare is the proven remote hearing care solution that enables remote fine-tuning for your patients in the high-risk category from this infectious disease. The time has never been more advantageous for expanding your TeleCare offering as more than half of all HCPs around the world are already using remote fitting solutions.*
With TeleCare you can hold virtual appointments with your clients so they get support when they need it without needing to visit you in person. You can also see their instant feedback on their daily satisfaction with their hearing aids. This leading remote hearing care allows you to:
- See the hearing issues your patient has experienced and provide more precise help
- Offer support whenever and wherever your patient needs it
- Secure higher acceptance and conversion rates thanks to increased wearer engagement during the trial period and beyond
To help you introduce your patients to TeleCare and how it works, we have prepared an online training and a series of how-to videos.
Leading remote assistance
The revolutionary Signia Assistant is the smart new way to help you address your patients’ needs even more effectively during these times of social distancing. It acts as an extension of yourself so you can help them with the challenges they experience in their daily life. It also supports them in optimizing their hearing experience with confidence, as 93% of hearing aid wearers say the Signia Assistant boosts their confidence to rely on their hearing aids and lets them feel more in control of their hearing success.**
Via the Signia app, your patients enjoy the industry’s leading remote assistance: Signia Assistant for small and instant sound adjustments and troubleshooting plus TeleCare for guided hearing exercises, satisfaction ratings and remote fine-tuning, enabling the smoothest trials and high wearer satisfaction.
Download the Signia app
To take advantage of the remote hearing care power of TeleCare and Signia Assistant, you can help your clients download the Signia app for free for both iOS and Android devices via the App Store® or Google Play™.
* Source: Boston Consulting Group, 2020
** Data on file