For the past few years, occupational healthcare has been considered one of the best career paths for college graduates.
When you get in the field, setting up your own practice can be challenging if you don't know a lot about the tools of the trade. Your audiometer is going to be one of the most important tools for diagnosing and treating issues.
Here is what you need to think about when you're considering buying one.
Consider How You Provide Services
When you're looking at audiometers, you need to know how you'll be using it. The application will determine the type of audiometer you need. If you're going to be providing services on the go, that's going to make a big difference.
Most audiometers get used inside of a sound booth. These are more permanent audiometers that don't need to be as mobile or flexible as other types of audiometers. Typical equipment that requires a sound booth is going to keep you from being mobile, however.
A permanent or non-mobile solution brings with it all kinds of extra expenses. Renting a space or paying for a location is a lot more challenging than being mobile. However, if you have a booth, you can get an audiometer that fits either situation.
Being able to test almost anywhere is a major value driver as booth based practices are limited by where they can move a huge soundbooth to.
Attenuating noise as much as a sound booth could is an ability that no other audiometers provide. Some headsets used with other audiometers can attenuate sound but nowhere near what the KUDUwave can do.
That means the KUDUwave can be used in almost any location. Reaching more people might be your goal, so if it is, consider attenuation as a primary feature that will give you the freedom to do so.
What Services Do You Provide?
The service you provide is going to tell you what you use it for. If you're performing high volume testing youre going to need an audiometer that enables fast and efficient testing.
Consider your choices carefully when you need an all-in-one solution. Some audiometers are built to perform a few functions well but don't cover the full spectrum and also don't allow you to upgrade your devices features as you grow.
Speech audiometry is usually done by connecting another audio source, usually from a DVD, and playing speech materials to your patient. That means even more equipment that you have to lug around, not to mention requiring the ability to plug things in.
In some cases, your materials can be embedded in the machine itself, making it much easier to provide flexible services.
Speed and accuracy are important, allowing you to test as many people as possible as fast as possible. Occupational health testing is a volume-driven game and the more patients you can test in the least amount of time, the better the device.
Accurate and reliable test results are the goal. If you're able to eliminate noise, you get better test results. Again, make your ability to control your environment the main feature you need to consider in an audiometer especially in a mobile service offering.
Look at the Specs
Consider the specification that comes on technical datasheets. While they might be hard to find online, looking at them in advance lets you know some important details in advance of buying your audiometer.
Detailed descriptions of the performance and characteristics of a product are important. The right audiometer should allow you to provide services most efficiently.
Start by making your own list of specifications that you need for your own purposes. What's the ideal frequency range and what's the highest intensity you need to reach? Those will limit you a certain group of patients.
If you're dealing with kids or dealing with people with profound hearing loss, you're going to need different tools. Contact the manufacturers if you have questions. They'll be able to give you the information you need to know about an audiometer before you invest.
They might even be able to recommend a better solution than the one you're looking at.
Attenuation is Everything
Attenuating noise is a key requirement in audiometric testing. Without it, you will not have reliable results which will have serious implications and consequences for both you and your patients.
While there are portable audiometers on the market, none are validated to be able to work without a sound booth in almost any location. That's because none of them actually attenuate sound. Instead, these setups rely on the headsets used, which might attenuate some sound but are still not sufficient for audiometry without a booth.
Your audiometer should combine multiple pieces of technology to attenuate the necessary sound and combines it all into a single lightweight device.
Consider the KUDUwave
No audiometer other than the KUDUwave is incorporated into the headset, so other audiometers could never actually attenuate sound. Think of it as an iPod with headphones.
The iPod doesn't block any noise but the headset probably does. The KUDUwave is like an iPod inside the headset. So, this device can be said to block sounds.
Traditional booths can actually be designed to be moved around although they would need to placed on a dedicated trailer. This additional cost might not be worth the price.
Towing a booth means you need the type of car that can handle the weight. Then, once it is there it will need to be re-certified for use by an external provider for an additional cost.
Your Audiometer Should Be Reliable
Above all else, your audiometer should be a reliable partner in your practice. When you need it, it should work flawlessly. While your patients may not notice when everything is going right, they'll certainly notice when it's not.
If you want to know more about the future of audiometry, check out this guide.