The age of carbon paper is over, the time of the data management system has come

11 May 2023

Picture this – unfortunately – real-life scenario:

You’re using carbon paper or pre-printed templates to transfer a hand-written audiogram to paper. You then hand this off to the patient to bring with them to the next appointment at your hospital. Or perhaps you hand it over to your ‘scanning department’. Your IT department then uploads this scanned PDF to a patient record (if the audiogram made its way to the scanning department in the first place). Because your IT department can’t read your carbon, PDF-scanned handwriting, they enter the wrong patient details.

And the quest of the fellowship of manual data handling continues… With the risk of – at many steps of this dreary journey – data vanishing or inaccurate data being logged.

This paints a sorry picture, but if you can see yourself in the above, you’re probably getting along just fine. You haven’t had any big problems yet. You’re quite efficient at manually inputting information on multiple occasions. It’s what you’ve been doing for the past several years and it has served you well.

But in all honesty, wouldn’t you rather have a data management system do all the boring work for you, so you could spend your precious time providing the best care for your patients?


What is a data management system?

A data management system is a piece of software that houses all your clinical data against a particular patient. So, rather than writing their name on a piece of paper and then inputting that data manually in one way or another, your computer is attaching that hearing test to that individual patient. With OtoAccess®, this is possible due to the integration between OtoAccess® Database and Interacoustics' software suites.


Why use a data management system?

In short, to make your life a (lot) easier, and to give you more time to care for your patients. This is where you provide value for your patients – not when you’re bogged down in admin.

There are also a few other reasons why you should consider using a data management system in your clinic.


1. All your diagnostic information in one place

With OtoAccess®, you've got all your diagnostic information in one place. So that could be your:

  • ABRs
  • Hearing tests
  • Tympanograms
  • Vestibular diagnostics

And so on. And it’s all in one piece of software (Figure 1).


Figure 1: OtoAccess® Database home screen, showing available software suites at the top and previous sessions to the right.


So in the morning, when you turn on your computer, you launch OtoAccess® from which you launch all your testing software. Instead of all your information from different parts of audiology and vestibular testing being in different places, all that information is in one place.

If you then want to generate a report for a colleague, you could have all your – for the sake of example – pure tone audiometry, tympanometry, and video otoscopy images in one report for you instantly.

You may also want to check multiple hearing tests over time. Again, you can quickly bring that information up against the individual patient. You don’t have to use some sort of filing system to find all that data.


2. Maximize your time with your patient

By integrating OtoAccess® Database to your facility’s EMR system with OtoAccess® Worklist HL7, everything is ready for testing as soon as the patient enters the room. No entering the patient’s details, no handwritten sensitive data, no mistakes.

With this integration, a new patient that you’re seeing for the first time will be available in your database once your receptionist has created the patient in your EMR system. Instead of spending your precious time inputting data, you can use the whole appointment to talk with your patient and perform the tests.

Once you’re done, the patient record is automatically updated in your EMR system in a matter of clicks. No manual exports of the patient’s data, no scanning, no mistakes.



3. Improve data quality

You’re in a clinic with 5, 10, or perhaps 20 audiologists. Each with their own (and possibly poor) handwriting. It’s not always easy to decipher what another person has written. But let’s say you manage to scan the results in and are able to read them.

Even at this point, the data is still just an image of handwriting. You can’t search for that data. You can’t access it easily. You’re always having to access an old image in the hopes of being able to decipher the results. With a data management system, data is uniform and accessible, improving your data quality.

Another way in which OtoAccess® maintains data quality is by not tinkering with the actual data. It follows audiological standards for data representation. For example, what an audiogram should look like, and which symbols are used. And this is because OtoAccess® doesn’t introduce its own interpretation of the data. It pulls the data from say the Titan Suite or the Eclipse Suite and puts that in the database.

This is beneficial as other generic databases that aren’t designed for audiology don’t ‘understand’ the data. So it might not understand what a tympanogram is, what a pure tone audiogram is, and so forth. It doesn’t hold that information for you in a way that you can read and understand.


4. Reduce resources spent on data management

With standalone devices and standalone databases, you’ll find that the different pieces of software don’t ‘talk to each other’. They’re not connected, meaning you have to put the same information in again and again. For every time you have to do that, there’s a chance you make a mistake:

  • Typo in the patient ID
  • Put the address slightly wrong
  • Missed off one letter in the name

And the list goes on. This can make it difficult to bring all that data together later on.

Imagine how much time you’re spending on this – unnecessary – admin. You’re easily looking at 5 to 10 minutes per patient. Let’s use an example with an audiologist that sees 12 patients per day and spends 7.5 minutes on data entry per patient: 7.5 x 12 = 90.

That’s 90 minutes – or an hour and a half – per day, per audiologist. And that’s only the time spent on inputting the data. You might speculate other ways in which manual or standalone data handling could introduce wasteful resource spend:

  • You have staff hired to scan hand-written audiograms
  • For printouts, you’re going through a filing system to access data
  • If data isn’t accessible, you might have to redo audiograms before hearing aid fittings

And the list goes on.


5. Avoid the security risks of physical information management

With printouts – like alphabetical lists or similar – there’s a chance of that to get lost. There’s a chance for you to put it in the wrong place. There’s a chance for you to forget to print something off. You’re making your life and your patients’ lives a lot more difficult. Not to mention the legal implications and reputation risks of data ‘mistreatment’, with lawsuits likely headed your way.

Let’s say you do a lot of home visits. You’re using a standalone audiometer that can’t connect to any databases. So you’re having to go around and write down the patient’s name on their audiogram card. Do the test and take all that information back to the hospital. Input all that data again.

You could drop one of those cards, and then that sensitive information is lying around. Or you input that data incorrectly. So, when you’re fitting the hearing aids for these patients with wrong information, the hearing aids aren’t set up correctly for the patient. Here, the correct thing to do is to redo the hearing test – but that’s easier said than done, especially if you’re dealing with immobile patients or patients with other health issues.


6. Reduce waiting lists in the wake of COVID-19

The still on-going COVID-19 pandemic has pushed back a lot of surgeries and other health-related appointments. Many hospitals are struggling with long waiting lists and dire financials. Clinicians, IT staff and hospital decision-makers are under a lot of stress to recover from COVID-19 and streamline their operations.

Compared to other hospital integrations, OtoAccess® is a small investment in a solution that would take a lot of weight off their shoulders – both in the short term by attending to more patients and in the long term with significant ROI benefits.


Navigate your sea of patients with efficient data handling

Data only becomes knowledge when you process it correctly. But once you’ve opened those doors to the realm of proper data handling, you’re at a much better position to make decisions that benefit your patients.

Open those doors, scrap that carbon paper, and visit our line of OtoAccess® integration solutions.


About the author

Shane Seiger-Eatwell is a Master of Linguistics and Communication (cand.ling.merc.), having graduated from Aarhus University in 2018. He joined Interacoustics in January 2019 as a Marketing Communications Specialist.



Thank you to Jack Bennett for providing audiological input for this article, and Søren Bo Petersen, Frederik Lindvig Christensen, and Michael Redder Rasmussen for providing technical input.

Shane Seiger-Eatwell
Shane Seiger-Eatwell is a Master of Linguistics and Communication (cand.ling.merc.), having graduated from Aarhus University in 2018. He joined Interacoustics in January 2019 as a Marketing Communications Specialist.

Published: 11 May 2023
Modified: 11 May 2023


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