The value of the KUDUwave in the time of COVID-19
The KUDUwave enables continued hearing healthcare during COVID-19. The risk of cross-contamination is reduced by having your patients outside the booth and performing validated diagnostic testing in a well-ventilated environment. Safe and effective hearing assessments, as well as ototoxicity screening, can even be conducted inside a patient’s car, or in the case of hospitalization, at the patient’s bedside. Quality diagnostic air, bone, speech and impedance audiometry has never been easier to conduct outside a sound booth. Furthermore, by utilizing tele-audiology facilitators that call on patients at home, you can perform real-time diagnostic teleaudiology testing.
“The KUDUwave allows you to reach out to your patients in a safe way and it will also significantly reduce the risk of your patient contracting COVID-19” – Dr Dirk Koekemoer
The global call for lockdown has had intended and unintended consequences. It helped manage a raging global pandemic but also brought economic ruin to many sectors. Your services, as healthcare workers in the field of audiology, have been severely curtailed. With restrictions continually changing, one thing is certain, COVID-19 and the effects thereof will remain in our lives for some time to come. What are you doing to ensure your future?
An informal online-survey was conducted among hearing healthcare providers during this pandemic. One of the questions asked was, “Is tele-audiology part of your strategy for dealing with the coronavirus?’’ 34% of the respondents reported that they were not equipped to provide services via tele-audiology. This, appropriately, is of huge concern, however, it is not surprising. Audiology services are heavily dependent on technology, unfortunately, a lot of the technology is limited when it comes to incorporating tele-audiology. This limitation is apparent now, more than ever as the COVID-19 pandemic severely affects hearing healthcare practices and services across the globe.
Technology continues to develop at a rapid pace and this development is also evident in the hearing healthcare industry. This article will cover the value of the KUDUwave in addressing this critical issue. In addition, the broader value of the KUDUwave during times of infectious diseases like the COVID-19 will be outlined. Before the pandemic brought on restrictions on movement and how we work, telehealthcare was gaining momentum and becoming recognized as a practical and financially viable option. This momentum should continue so that we continue providing our patients with the care they need.
Your livelihood. Expanding the reach of audiological services
As hearing healthcare professionals, our focus is to provide preventative care, early diagnosis, treatment and management of disease and conditions. This is all done in order to prevent disease and limit the severity of the disability or condition in the population. All health professionals take an oath (typically the Hippocratic Oath) when they graduate and step into the world of providing quality health services to the masses. This oath is held sacred by health professionals (including myself). One of the extracts from the oath is ‘’to treat the ill to the best of one’s ability’. This is what we do, as health professionals. Our mandate is to provide healthcare services to the best of our ability.
However, what we are often shy to talk about is that some of our livelihoods are dependent on the hearing-care services we provide. The fact that we make our living wage providing health services does not mean we provide lesser quality services or that we are not doing it for the love of our jobs and helping auditory-impaired individuals.
During this pandemic, it is difficult to reach patients, thus many audiologists and hearing-care professionals’ livelihoods are impacted. With technology such as the KUDUwave, this does not have to be the case. Through tele-audiology and the KUDUwave’s portability, you can reach your patients and increase your client base. Therefore, the KUDUwave provides a means to overcome geographical barriers in hearing healthcare delivery.
Comprehensive diagnostic audiometer (Tele-audiology enabled)
The KUDUwave audiometer is a unique computer-based, tele-audiology enabled, comprehensive diagnostic audiometer with improved ambient noise attenuation. It is the only audiological equipment that is able to provide pure tone air/bone speech audiometry and diagnostic immittance outside of a sound-treated booth. The KUDUwave has been scientifically proven to be able to provide valid and accurate tele-audiometry services. Read the paper on how specifically tele-audiometry services can be implemented here.
The use of a one-device-solution comes in handy during this time. Not only does this make financial sense, but this also allows you to offer comprehensive services and infection prevention and control is made easier. While we have to adapt to the new life of working from home, healthcare (specifically hearing healthcare in this case) does not have to be compromised by COVID-19. We do know that many hearing-impaired individuals may find their understanding and communication abilities impacted. A classic example is the use of face masks. Face masks represent a key ally in fighting COVID-19 infections however, the use of face-masks reduce acoustic transmission and prevent lip reading significantly. As a result, masks suitable for hard of hearing individuals have been designed and developed. Although these masks may fog, they do assist greatly with lip reading. However, hearing aids are still needed to ensure appropriate amplification for those who are hard of hearing. In order for this to happen, fully comprehensive diagnostic testing should be conducted.
Infection control (Boothless / Open-air testing)
A recent correspondence published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the virus that causes COVID-19 can live in the air and on surfaces from between several hours to several days. The virus can live on plastics for up to 72 hours, on stainless steel for 48 hours and up to 24 hours on cardboard. Of interest is that the study could detect the virus in the air only up to three hours.
This situation becomes dangerous in traditional hearing healthcare settings where a patient is required to test in a closed booth. Not only does this limit the professional’s ability to increase their client-base (as a result of an immovable booth) but it makes infection control tricky. One would hope that the possibly COVID-19 asymptomatic patient does not touch various things in the booth or that the clinician cleans the booth thoroughly after each patient. Then there is still the dangerous situation of how to deal with airborne droplets. Although science has shown that Ultraviolet lights can terminate the virus in the air and on the surface, this may prove costly and less efficient or effective. With the KUDUwave, infection control is economically viable and efficient. Firstly, although the virus can stay in the air for up to 3 hours in the laboratory and in closed environments (i.e. in the booth) this is not true for the outdoors where the virus can be quickly eliminated due to real-world exposures such as the sunlight, wind and temperature. Thus the risk of cross-contamination when using the KUDUwave is significantly minimized. Added to this, it is easy to sterilize/ disinfect your KUDUwave after use. (read up on how to clean your KUDUwave during COVID-19).
Ototoxicity monitoring (Extended high-frequency testing)
Chloroquine is sometimes used in the treatment of COVID-19. Literature suggesting that chloroquine may be associated with ototoxicity. Case reports suggest tinnitus, balance dysfunction and sensorineural hearing loss as manifestations.
Ototoxicity monitoring in COVID-19 patients who are on such drugs is paramount in order to prevent further hearing deteriorations. This continued monitoring allows for changes in therapeutic management and to prepare the patient for possible side effects. This also provides the healthcare practitioner with concrete evidence of the impact the medication has on the hearing status of the patient. We all know the effects of hearing loss in individuals of all age-groups. In a busy in and outpatient facility, saving lives, hearing loss of patients may go unnoticed. It is important that both physicians, nurses, audiologists and other healthcare professionals are aware of the effects of such drugs, to ensure appropriate measurements in place for our population.
Continued hearing healthcare
With the KUDUwave, accurate and valid hearing healthcare services can continue to be provided, while ensuring both the safety of the patients and the clinician. Let us take this opportunity to impact positively and safely our patients’ lives during this pandemic and contribute to reducing the risk of COVID-19 exposure drastically. The KUDUwave is a readily available technology solution that offers fully-comprehensive diagnostic audiology care in low-risk environments.
Let us take this time to make calculated changes in our clinics that will impact our future positively.
“Continued hearing healthcare”