Michelle Rupp: Hello and welcome into this week’s edition of AFMC TV. We’re so glad you’re joining us today. We are kicking off talking about some best practices when it comes to picking out a hearing aid. And joining us now is Dr. Mary Chatelain at Pinnacle Hearing. Hi Dr. Mary, how are you?

Dr. Mary Chatelain: Good. Good morning, how are you doing?

MR: Good morning. I am well, thank you. So wow, we have just come through the holiday season. We’ve spent time with our families. We maybe have noticed that members of our family aren’t hearing quite as well as they have in previous years. So what, maybe would be the first step in identifying if someone needs a hearing aid?

MC: Well, I think that the whole holiday season definitely brings more people into our clinic. And not necessarily the people bringing themselves but their family members bringing them. Their family members being around them and really noticing, “Hey, you’re not hearing like you should. You’re responding inappropriately and those family members really encouraging the patient to come in. And sometimes it’s so much, it’s actually bringing the patient in. Not just telling them. “Hey mom, you need an appointment,” but saying “Hey, you know, I’m going to get my hearing checked mom, why don’t you come with me and get your checked out?” But definitely the first step is really just acknowledging to that loved one. “I think something’s going on. Let’s get you scheduled for a hearing evaluation.”

MR: So let’s talk a little about the process of going through having a hearing evaluation. Kind of what that entails and what is it that you’re looking for as an audiologist?

MC: Okay awesome. Well you know the first step of course is going to be a thorough case history. Any doctor you go to, you know, you answer so many questions. But really understanding the background, your background history, has there been a lot of noise exposure, Is there hearing loss in your family? Really helping us understand where you come from and what struggles you’re having? Then getting you into the soundproof booth. You know everybody kind of gets scared when they see the big thing that looks like a refrigerator but a basic hearing evaluation in a sound treated environment. So in that situation we’re going to do what people commonly think of. Okay I’m going to hear the beep and I’m just going to raise my hand every time I press the button. So that’s part of it, but we definitely take it a step further where we do speech understanding scores. So getting that patients in a comfortable situation where they aren’t lip reading. You know, we’re going to say words to them but they can’t see our face. So we learned so much from patients. You know, patients will come in and say it’s not that I can’t hear, I hear. It’s just everybody mumbles. Well whenever we can recreate this in the booth setting, patients do find that, “Hey I am whipped reading a lot more. I didn’t know that. I really need to see someone’s face.” And so doing this speech evaluation and then, us doing bone conduction score so we can determine okay what type of hearing loss do you have? Is this something that’s sensorineural? Is due to just the normal aging process and genetics? Or is this something that is a sudden hearing loss? Is there something foreign in the ear canal? Does this really require a medical referral? So before we look at hearing aids we really want to understand. Okay what is the background with this patient and what type of hearing loss they have. Because it could be that all right, we need to refer you to a surgeon. We need to refer you to another medical team, and it not be hearing aids are the fix. So you definitely want to have a thorough evaluation going in.

MR: So after that evaluation is completed and it all signs point to yes, this is part of the aging process. This individual is a candidate for hearing aids. Then what are those conversations like what are you take me through those steps?

MC: Well so once we rule out any FDA red flags that they would need to be referred out- Typically in the same appointment you can have a thorough hearing aid consultation. So we’ll go over the results of your hearing evaluation, talk about your speech understanding and then get a plan together. Where- do we recommend hearing aids? So if we do, we’re going to talk about the style. There are so many styles of hearing aids. There are kinds that go in your ear, there are kinds that go over your ear. So we’re going to start there. We’re also going to talk about the different features of the hearing aids. Do we want bluetooth? Do we want them to be rechargeable? You know there’s a lot of lifestyle considerations that we need to think about. Each patient is different. What they’re exposed to daily and what their communication needs are different. So we’re going to take a thorough inventory of that. We’re also going to talk about technology. Hearing aids are basically like computers. You know if you go into the Apple store to buy a computer, they’re all basically going to look the same but it’s going to be the components inside of the computer. You know how are you going to use that computer as to what level of technology you need? So it’s the same thing with hearing aids. A patient who is, you know, let’s say that they are still working, there in a lot of different meetings and traveling. Their technology need is going to be different than someone who is home all day, maybe getting out once or twice a week. So, not only are we looking at their hearing loss but we’re also looking at what their communication needs are. So, it’s basically a conversation that you are going to have with your provider. So whenever you’re getting hearing aids it’s important to realize, it’s not just a product you’re getting, it’s not just a computer, you’re also going to be purchasing services. So the fitting process, the follow up process all that’s going to be included whenever you’re purchasing a hearing aid. So we definitely are going to take time learning about you what your needs are. And also if you would be a good fit with our practice because it’s not just going to be one visit, there are going to be follow ups. That’s how you’re successful with the hearing aid is going to be the hearing aid but also the person fitting it and the follow up process. So during that we call it really a hearing aid evaluation that’s whenever you’re going to have the full hearing evaluation and then also the consultation where at the end of that appointment you should have a clear understanding what hearing aid is recommended for you and you know typically you’re not going to be thrown a crazy amount options. Typically, there’s you know 1 to 2 options of what hearing aid is going to be the best.

MR: And that was going to be my next question- Are you trying on hearing aids? Like how you might try on glasses? I mean there’s a wide variety but it doesn’t sound like that’s the case.

MC: Yeah, well it really depends on your hearing loss and your needs. There are times we can do a live demonstration in the office if your hearing loss can- if we can fit you with the type of demonstration hearing aids we have in the office. It doesn’t always work for all of our patients but I would say about 75% of our patients that works for. But it is going to be a little different than glasses. You know whenever you’re trying on glasses typically you’re just looking at the frame’s kind of how it looks, it’s not really what it looks like through the lens. And so that’s going to be a little bit different. But the chip inside of the hearing aid we can put that on any style. So if you’re hearing loss um is where we can do a demonstration in the office. The ability of what you’re going to hear is going to be accurate. The style and the look of it might be a little bit different. But it is important to note that with hearing AIDS, in the state of Arkansas there is a 30 day trial period. So, let’s say that for some reason you’re not able to try hearing aids on in the office and you’re scheduled for a fitting. And so that fitting is going to be the first time that you wear those hearing aids. You do have a 30 day trial period. So you were able to go home. Wear are those hearing aids around your family in your real world environment? You will have some follow ups during that first 30 days. But it is a way to determine, Hey, does this work for me? It’s not going to be something where you purchase without benefit. It doesn’t work to just put it in the drawer. Your audiologists and hearing care professional will work with you during those 30 days.

MR: That’s great information. I certainly had no idea, you have, as you said, 30 days to love it or leave it and then find something else that does work.

MC: Yeah, and you know when we’re looking at a hearing aids were looking at the technology then when you come into the office for the hearing aid fitting, that is going to be the process of you actually get in the hearing aid that is ordered specifically for your needs. So you’ll have a serial number attached to that hearing aid. And during the hearing aid fitting process, that’s whenever we go thoroughly, we’re going to program the hearing aid to your hearing loss. We’re going to run verification measures. So we’re going to make sure that that hearing aid that we’ve programmed for your specific hearing loss that when it’s in your ear it’s amplifying appropriately and so verification is going to be key to a successful hearing aid fitting. During that fitting process we’re also going to go over insertion and removal. So how to put the hearing aid in your ear, how to take it out. How to- if it has batteries, how to open the battery door and change that or if it’s rechargeable, how you put that on the charger every night?

MR: Well Dr. Chatelain, that is some very valuable information. And we appreciate you joining us today.

MC: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for having me.

MR: Thank you.