So, why don’t you own your own practice? Why can’t you see more patients every day? Can’t you find ways of better managing your time? Why do I have to go somewhere else for another hearing test? Can’t you use the results of the hearing screening?
It’s too expensive! The equipment I own only allows me to see a few patients every day. My current equipment requires me to follow a lengthy clinical protocol. I can only get reliable test results in a fixed soundproof booth.
If you have ever heard or said any of the above you're not alone and you are definitely in the right place at the right time
For many years, audiologists have been confined to a stationary practice with big, immovable, costly equipment. The picture today looks very much the same, very little has changed.
So, what’s the problem?
Many would say, ‘if it’s not broken, why fix it?’. However, the biggest flaw in this model is that the need for audiological services far outweighs the number of audiologists available. The patient to practitioner ratio is alarmingly high and continues to rise.
The immobility and high costs of audiology service delivery are some of the major factors that prevent patients from receiving quality hearing healthcare.
Pure tone and speech audiometry remain at the core of audiological evaluations.
This is mainly due to the fact that their results remain significant in the diagnosis and treatment of hearing conditions. Supplementary tests are conducted when it is difficult to carry out the above-mentioned tests or when a differential diagnosis is required.
More often than not, Pure tone and speech audiometry tests come as a package, installed on one device and the one critical requirement of these core tests is that they need to be conducted in a sound-treated booth. The booth prevents external noise disruption of the test stimulus, allowing for accurate test results. Should the audiologist choose to include the use of recorded live speech in their test battery, it would require the use of a DVD connected to audiometer speakers.
So how do we ensure these core services reach as many people as possible if a booth and complex equipment are required in order to conduct them? We make the equipment portable.
The first audiometer that was considered “more portable” was produced around the 1920s. The emphasis was placed on “more” rather than strictly “portable” as the device wasn’t portable in the true sense of the word as yet. Historically, portable or mobile audiometers were always confined to mobile sound booths.
Despite being costly, these portable audiometers rarely complied with standards due to inadequate attenuation of low-frequency ambient noise.
Many clinicians resorted to using mobile audiometers without a mobile sound booth for screening purposes only. While the intentions were good, ambient noise levels in the environment would artificially elevate the hearing thresholds, yielding inaccurate screening results. Additionally, this often still required patients who failed the screening to travel to an institution with diagnostic audiology equipment.
As with all technology, audiometers evolved and have come a really long way.
However, despite advances from vacuum tubes to microprocessors and now devices that integrate the core audiological tests into one single device, one may argue that the ‘integrated device’ will still need to be used in a sound-treated booth.
And, the argument would be correct, unless the ‘integrated device’ was also able to attenuate ambient noise equal to and better than that of a sound booth. A truly all-in-one solution.
Bigger Is Not Better
The notion that bigger is better is not always true. The first handheld mobile phone was produced in the 1970s. It weighed 2 kg and measured about 23 cm in height - this mobile phone was huge. However, it only allowed for phone calls and storage of less than 60 contact numbers.
Today, the smallest mobile phones allow you to call, send messages, receive and send emails, record images and videos, stream the internet and listen to music and the list continues. It’s clear that often the functionality of small devices can often outweigh that of their bigger counterparts.
So, how does this all relate to an audiometer and making accurate, reliable hearing testing accessible to as many in need as possible?
Enter, The KUDUwave; A revolutionary device that allows for use in various settings, including private practices, hospitals, primary health clinics, factories and schools. This audiological device encompasses core audiology tests, with integrated ambient noise attenuation strategies.
The KUDUwave: All-in-one solution
Ambient noise attenuation
The importance of sufficient attenuation of noise during audiometry cannot be stressed enough. Noise can mask pure tones or speech sounds that are being presented, thus, artificially elevating the patient's thresholds. Noise attenuation is important both during screening and diagnostic hearing assessments. During a screening, one may falsely refer patients based on elevated thresholds (failed screening), and during diagnostic testing, one may falsely diagnose and manage the patient, all due to high ambient noise levels
The KUDUwave employs Ambi-Dome technology, which enables the device to attenuate ambient noise to a standard that is equal, if not better than that of a sound booth.
Speech and pure tone Audiometry?
In the introduction, we spoke of the majority of hearing healthcare professionals being required to purchase several pieces of equipment in order to provide audiology services across the spectrum. With the KUDUwave, all core assessments are integrated into one device.
Namely speech and pure tone (air and bone conduction). A clinician is able to provide screening, as well as comprehensive diagnostic assessments in their small office, at an old age home or wherever the patient may be.
A tympanometer will also be added in the very near future, but don't let that stop you, it will also be available as an upgrade.
And the cherry on top?
A Patient Management System That Works For You!
A device that makes the admin easier! So clinically, the KUDUwave ticks all boxes, but what about all the papers, files, audiogram sheets? All the things that make mobile clinics difficult to run and manage.
Clinicians know how costly it is to handle papers. From storing patient files to the amount of time it takes to look for one and the cost of actually losing one. Being portable means that you require your patient’s documents but it also means that you run the risk of losing the information and you have to cart it around wherever you go.
The KUDUwave patient management system is suited for both start-up clinicians and those who have been in the game a little longer. The filing cabinet can be sold along with all your obsolete equipment. You may also find that you are saving on a salary as you no longer need that extra staff member that was designated for storing and finding patient files and keeping up on admin.
The KUDUwave allows for a paperless practice. It enables you to group all your patients according to specific clinics, age and various other parameters.
But what about other important documents that form a vital part of the patient’s multidisciplinary picture but that are not generated by you? The KUDUwave allows you to scan and upload relevant documents into your patient’s profile on the system. It even has Noah Integration if that's your thing.
Remember all those questions at the beginning of this article?
The KUDUwave provides the answer to them all.
It enables you to open your own practice without the expense of buying several big pieces of equipment. The all-in-one solution saves you time, allowing you to increase your patient load daily.
You are able to manage your time more efficiently as you will spend less on admin.
You will save your client time and money by being able to conduct a diagnostic test and eliminate the need for both screening and diagnostic audiology.
You can now work anywhere and don’t require the floor area for a fixed soundproof booth.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of them all is that the KUDUwave is helping to close the gaping hole that prevents access of the majority of hearing-impaired people to accurate and reliable hearing healthcare services.