Hearing aid fitting in a nutshell
No one hearing-impaired client is entirely the same. And less so when it comes to fitting hearing aids.
From the outset, there are a couple of things one should be aware of when diving into hearing aid fitting. First off, it is important to bear in mind that the hearing aid fitting process is continuous until a proper fit. May I note a process that is repeated when a hearing aid user opts to upgrade his or her hearing aids, and subsequently note that Affinity Compact’s Hearing Aid Transition test simplifies this enormously.
Perhaps even more importantly, the success of a hearing aid fitting process relies heavily on the ‘human’ touch. The hearing care professional (HCP) is responsible for creating an environment in which the client and him or herself have the best conditions for collaboration. More on this later.
Prior to the hearing aid fitting
Prior to the hearing aid fitting itself, the client has been identified with some form of hearing impairment to be treated with hearing aids. The HCP initially programs the chosen hearing aids according to the client’s audiogram. In an ideal world, the newly baptized hearing aid user will be perfectly satisfied with this initial programming. As you are most likely aware, certainly if you fit hearing aids for a living, such a world seldom exists.
Useful measurements before hearing aid fitting
Before the actual hearing aid fitting, we need a thorough idea of what is going on inside the ear. Useful measurements in this regard are video otoscopy, utilizing Viot™, followed by tympanometry and otoacoustic emission (OAE) testing using Titan.
During this step, it would be ideal to get the client to describe which sounds he or she finds difficulty in hearing, as this could present the subjective means of pinpointing the issue.
Real-ear measurement (REM)
Now it is time for real-ear measurement (REM). REM (or real-ear-to-coupler difference for infants and small children) provides objective quantification of how the hearing aids are performing.
REM is sequential, as frequency-specific amplification can produce feedback (squeal). Trial and error and feedback cancellation is the way forward. This will ensure a happy client that will return for fewer follow ups than if you simply amplificated frequencies solely on an objective basis.
Counseling your client
Right, we are at the point where we have achieved a match to target while canceling out feedback. Even at this point, the patient may not be fully satisfied. It is time for the nitty gritty tweaks.
Visible speech mapping (VSPM) and counseling are crucial in this regard. The HCP and the client collaborate to implement the finest of tunings. Affinity Compact’s VSPM module includes a comprehensive on-screen display, so the HCP can explain hearing aid function to the client and his or her loved ones. As such, VSPM and counseling are adept at including the client, which is necessary to make these final changes.
Do not lose sleep over follow ups
Once the HCP and the client are satisfied, the latter can be sent on his or her way. Do however ensure that the newly fitted hearing aid user can operate the volume control and that the user’s smartphone is connected to the hearing aids.
And fret not when the client comes calling. Follow ups are to be expected, even when the HCP conducts a thorough hearing aid fitting with REM and subjective feedback. Using Affinity Compact and its REM, HIT and VSPM modules will just ensure fewer follow ups, benefitting both the HCP and the hearing aid user.