Telehealth, also called remote care, virtual care or telepractice, refers to delivery of health services from a distance. The term Teleaudiology is used when this health service refers specifically to audiology services, i.e., the delivery of hearing services by an audiologist or audiometrist who is in a different location to the client.
Teleaudiology covers many different modes of interactions between a hearing health care practitioner, Audiologist or Audiometrist and a client including:
Teleaudiology can occur:
Teleaudiology may involve another person (a significant other, carer, health professional or trained assistant) to support the client or help the hearing health care practitioner deliver the service.
Overall, the response to the teleaudiology guidelines concept and consultation draft was positive and encouraging. An overwhelming majority welcomed the initiative and the opportunity to provide feedback. To read more about the key findings please see Consultation Report.
Teleaudiology is a service delivery option that complements in-person services. Practitioners, providers and clients may choose to use teleaudiology or not. How and when it is used should be guided by:
No. The Teleaudiology guidelines will complement (not duplicate) guidance documented elsewhere such as:
To support implementation of the guidelines, we aim to provide resources to those practitioners and providers looking for more detailed guidance.
Teleaudiology is already being used to provide hearing care across Australia’s national border:
Practitioners and providers must be aware of and comply with the legal and regulatory requirements including professional standards, accreditation and/or licensing that apply in the client’s location.
Audiology Australia recognises overseas trained audiologists who are practising in Australia, after a rigorous scrutiny of evidence about identity and qualifications and a written examination of knowledge, skills and competencies. Accreditation and membership of Audiology Australia involves the additional step of completing a clinical internship with an Australian based practitioner.
Audiology Australia encourages clients using teleaudiology to confirm where their practitioner is based as well as their accreditation and membership of Audiology Australia or another Professional Practice Body such as the Australian College of Audiology (ACAud) or the Hearing Aid Audiology Society of Australia (HAASA).
See below regarding the difference between standards and guidelines.
Guidelines provide a degree of flexibility to take account of a person’s circumstances to provide the best client experience and optimal outcomes.
In the health sector, standards are generally understood to be a specification or requirement which may be mandated.
Audiology Australia has the power to mandate professional and ethical standards for individual practitioners as a condition of becoming a member of Audiology Australia and/or being accredited by Audiology Australia. Clinical competencies for Audiologists and duty of care apply whether a hearing service is delivered in person or remotely.
Audiology Australia, however, does not have authority to mandate standards for a service delivery model.
The guidelines are for Audiologists and Audiometrists. We are developing a consumer-friendly guide to help the clients of hearing services make informed choices about using teleaudiology. It is important to talk to your Audiologist or Audiometrist to make sure teleaudiology is right for the hearing care you need.
The testing phase will involve interviews, focus groups and a survey. Results of each testing stage will progressively refine the guidelines to improve clarity, useability and relevance. Read Testing the draft guidelines statement .
The guidelines will be tested between November 2021 and March 2022.
If you would like to participate in the testing process or the development of a consumer resource about teleaudiology, please send an expression of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible.
Hearing care delivered by teleaudiology is as effective as in-person care. In some circumstances, teleaudiology may provide a better level of care by, for example:
Teleaudiology is an alternative way to deliver some or all hearing services. It can complement in-person care and is not intended to replace in-person care. The client’s preferences and circumstances should be considered together with the professional judgment of the hearing health care practitioner about how to achieve the best outcomes for their client.
All hearing services can be delivered using one or more forms of teleaudiology. Clinical guidance will be a key component of the teleaudiology guidelines, drawing on evidence and other considerations to help a hearing health care practitioner determine how to achieve the best outcomes for their client
Teleaudiology is suitable for anyone who requires hearing services, regardless of age, location, residential arrangements, abilities, or social and economic circumstances.
Qualified and accredited hearing health care practitioners can deliver hearing services using teleaudiology. In doing so, they must abide by:
Teleaudiology guidelines will not replace or diminish the professional judgement and duty of care that hearing health care practitioners apply to their clinical practice.
Audiology Australia considers that teleaudiology is an appropriate service delivery model for the audiology profession.
Audiology Australia advocates that teleaudiology should be delivered in a person-centred fashion, i.e., respecting the client’s preferences and values, involving family and friends, reinforcing shared decision-making and goal setting, and prioritising the free-flow of information (Ida Institute 2019).
We anticipate Audiology Australia’s teleaudiology guidelines will encompass:
The teleaudiology guidelines will not:
The guidelines project started in February 2021 and will be completed in mid 2022. The project has three phases:
Audiology Australia is developing these guidelines with the support and advice of a Working Group comprising clinical, consumer and provider representatives drawn from the Hearing Health Sector Alliance, as well as two researchers participating in an independent capacity. Dr Bec Bennett chairs the Working Group.
Audiology Australia will consult consumers, consumer organisations, hearing health care practitioners and their professional bodies, hearing service providers, hearing researchers, government agencies, health service providers including ENTs, GPs, indigenous health and medical services, allied health professionals and telehealth experts. Their feedback has helped refine the guidelines in preparation for testing with hearing health care practitioners, hearing services providers and their clients.
Delivering health care remotely has been evolving for many years for a wide range of health services. The 2019 Roadmap to Hearing Health, building on earlier Parliamentary and other reports, identified the potential of teleaudiology to address inequitable access to hearing services for people living in rural and remote parts of Australia.
The COVID-19 pandemic increased the level of interest in using teleaudiology to support Australians’ hearing health during lockdowns, travel restrictions and temporary business closures.
In October 2020, the Australian Government announced funding to implement key initiatives from the Roadmap to Hearing Health. These initiatives focus on improving access to high quality hearing services for vulnerable Australians into the future including by teleaudiology.