Telehealth has expanded the ways we receive care, bringing a more convenient and safer option for preventive, urgent and specialty services during the COVID-19 pandemic. As both adoption and technological capabilities expand, so too have the treatment options. For example, you may be able to receive care for hearing loss from the comfort of your home.
Hearing loss is the third most common chronic condition among older Americans, affecting roughly 1 in 3 people between the ages of 65 and 74. But as the pandemic kept many people home, those experiencing hearing loss may have also delayed treatment. While hearing aid sales reached nearly $3.5 million in 2020, that represents a significant decline compared to the previous year.
To help improve access to hearing health care, the method and delivery of treatment needed to expand to meet people where they are. For example, UnitedHealthcare Hearing has launched a new telehearing option, called Right2You, which provides virtual care hearing support for eligible members. This is designed to help reduce the need for recurring in-person appointments with the goal of helping to improve overall well-being — as untreated hearing loss may contribute to a higher risk of falls, cognitive decline and isolation in older adults.
If you are experiencing hearing loss, you may want to consider the benefits of virtual care. Here’s what to expect from the virtual care model:
- Online hearing test
An online hearing screener, like the one offered through UnitedHealthcare Hearing, will help you determine whether you should take action on your hearing loss. You’ll need headphones so you can listen to various pitches and tones in both ears. The results of your test will determine the severity of your hearing loss and will help your hearing professional develop a treatment plan, including the need for an in-person hearing test to produce what’s called an audiogram.
- Virtual appointment
Gather important information like your current medical history or health conditions to prepare for your appointment. Consider writing down your symptoms of hearing loss, whether or not you’ve had exposure to loud environments and any questions that you may have. During your virtual appointment, you’ll have time to go over the results of your hearing test and address any of your questions or concerns. Based on the results, your audiologist or hearing health professional may develop a treatment plan, which may include a recommendation for hearing aids or another assistive device.
- Home-delivered hearing aids
If hearing aids are recommended, you may be able to have them shipped directly to your home. Depending on the type of hearing aids you choose, you may have access to a smartphone app that allows a hearing professional to remotely adjust your hearing aids – without the need for an office visit.
It may be tempting to put off seeking help for hearing loss, but many times, the sooner you take action, the better. Considering the potential benefits of virtual care may be an easy first step at getting the help you need.