Bruyère pilots quick hearing tests for seniors
October 21, 2020
OTTAWA – Working with local industry partner, SHOEBOX Ltd., Bruyère is proud to be an early adopter of the SHOEBOX QuickTest, an iPad-based audiometry screening tool, in our hospital. First validated at Bruyère’s Memory Program, the SHOEBOX QuickTest has now been implemented at the Geriatric Rehabilitation Program for all new incoming patients.
The new technology from SHOEBOX will help solve a major problem: Over half of the Canadian population between the ages of 40 to 70 has measurable hearing loss, and the rate of hearing loss in Canadians between the ages of 70 to 79 is a startling 93%. Yet most people in the latter age range were not aware they were experiencing hearing loss.
“A patient’s ability to hear and understand the care team is a crucial part of implementing our care plans,” said Dr. Anne Harley, geriatric rehabilitation. “QuickTest makes sense, by allowing our care team to ensure that their mode of communication is optimized with patients. I’m pleased to be a part of a team at Bruyère that is piloting innovative tools that can have a positive impact on the healthcare system as a whole.”
SHOEBOX QuickTest, a recent release by SHOEBOX Ltd., is an easy-to-use, self-administered hearing screening test designed to quickly and accurately triage individuals using an iPad and a set of headphones. The sorting is achieved through an algorithm and characterizes individuals as “good hearing”, “reduced hearing” or “very reduced hearing” in just a few minutes.
One of these key partners, and an early adopter of the SHOEBOX QuickTest, is Bruyère Hospital in Ottawa.
Bruyère is a multi-site academic healthcare organization, specializing in rehabilitation, aging and memory. It is focused on developing innovative services and products for Canada’s older adults.
Bruyère recognizes the importance of identifying hearing loss in their patients as a way to improve quality of care and is piloting SHOEBOX QuickTest hearing screening to patients upon admission. Together, SHOEBOX and Bruyère are hoping to scale hearing assessments across the organization and eventually, throughout the provincial healthcare ecosystem.
As part of a CAN Health Network initiative, SHOEBOX collaborated with clinicians and stakeholders at Bruyère to develop and implement a new innovative hearing assessment framework for healthcare. This partnership began with a mini-validation study at the Bruyère Memory Program to verify if the proposed methodology would appropriately assess the hearing of patients with mild cognitive impairment (publication pending).
After demonstrating the effectiveness of the hearing screening test, Bruyère and SHOEBOX implemented the program within the Geriatric Rehabilitation Program, where there was a clear need for objective assessments.
Patients within the Geriatric Rehabilitation Program stay an average of 50 days, which provides an opportunity for screening and follow-up assessments as needed. Hearing screening is performed within the first several days of admission and requires minimal facilitator support. The results are obtained early in the admission which helps the care team to use appropriate communication strategies for patients with hearing impairment.
This also allows the care team to arrange a follow-up appointment with a hearing healthcare specialist, should the patient need it. Screening is conducted in the patient’s room and the results are then shared with the patient and their physician. Despite initial concerns related to accessibility to the technology, this does not appear to be the case for the majority of the patients included in this pilot.
Physicians whose patients are identified as having reduced or very reduced hearing ability have the option to make a referral to audiology for a complete hearing evaluation by an audiologist. Also, the care team is reminded to use pocket talkers and communication strategies when interacting with patients.
Early data already suggests that SHOEBOX QuickTest results are providing meaningful results for patients by identifying previously undiagnosed hearing concerns, and positively impacting physician behaviour when it comes to working with patients with hearing loss.