Nearly 50 million Americans have a speech, language, and hearing disorder. And while many people assume that hearing loss is a late-in-life problem, nearly half of the 30 million afflicted people are under age 50. These issues can have a profound effect on someone’s life – affecting their professional and social prospects and leading to isolation. Those impacts intensify when local treatment is unavailable. Patients in rural areas face provider shortages and long wait times to see an audiologist or speech pathologist. Even more disturbing, the supply of U.S. audiologists is not on track to meet the rising demand needed in the next 25 years.
If you know anything about telemedicine, you might be thinking, “Can’t virtual care bridge this gap?” And the answer is yes – it can. As with all things virtual health, reimbursement and awareness haven’t always been where they should be. But now Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has added specific CPT codes to the list of teleaudiology and virtual speech pathology services eligible for reimbursement. This opens the door for audiologists and speech-language pathologists who’d like to leverage connected health tools and platforms for their patients in Medicare Part B and Medicare Advantage plans.
Expanding access to these services benefits both providers and patients. In large practices where physicians often rely on a sub-specialist consultation, adding tele-audiology and speech pathology can be a major asset. For patients living in areas without the right specialists, virtual services can mean more than access to treatment – it can mean greater confidence, better family and social relationships, and new career opportunities.
Bringing Convenient, Quality Care to Veterans
Tinnitus and hearing are the top two most common health conditions for veterans. But many veterans live in rural areas without the right specialists; even veterans treated through a VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) can’t always access audiology or speech language pathology services. For these veterans, their only hope for treatment lies in making a specialty appointment at a distant VA hospital or clinic, involving long wait times and long drives.
To expand access to care for all veterans, CBOCs across the country have implemented tele-audiology solutions. Self-administered hearing and speech tests allow for automated collection of diagnostic data and ear images to be integrated into a single report. The exam only takes about 15 minutes; once complete, a nurse sends the images and test results to an audiologist who might place an order for hearing aids or decide the veteran needs further testing.
Opening Doors, Changing Lives
Telehealth for speech and auditory disorders doesn’t just mean more widespread access to services; it means earlier screenings, diagnosis and treatment. This is especially critical for patients in underserved or struggling communities, as earlier intervention increase their odds of a successful professional life. With the advanced technology available today, there’s simply no reason that people with hearing loss or speech issues should go untreated – and every reason reimbursement and access need to be top priorities.
Audiology-Specific Virtual Health Technologies
GlobalMed offers a range of teleaudiology all-in-one solutions that provide for remote patient audiology evaluation, or clinician-assisted exams that avoid inconvenient travel for the patient, or the need for a specialist to refer a patient to another physician.
The new portable audiology exam solution combines GlobalMed’s telehealth device and software experience with GSI’s Automated Method for Testing Auditory Sensitivity (AMTAS™) patient directed evaluation software. The lightweight design facilitates a completely remote audiology assessment including diagnostic data, ear imagery and hearing test results. Learn more.
The Transportable Audiology Backpack with eNcounter® and GSI AMTAS™ software for remote audiology exams.
ClinicalAccess® Teleaudiology Station
Combining the technology of industry leading audiology testing devices with GlobalMed’s proven telemedicine station, the CAS Teleaudiology Station offers an all-in-one solution for remote audiolology assessment. Learn more.
The ClinicalAccess Teleaudiology Station offers an all-in-one solution for remote audiology assessment.