Mobile Audiology: Hearing Health on the Move


Hearing loss is a widespread and often irreversible condition caused by aging, noise exposure, and genetics. The National Institute of Health reports that 15% of adults suffer from some degree of hearing loss. [1] This number rises dramatically when factors such as age, occupation, leisure activities, and geographic location are considered. As personalized medicine increasingly becomes the norm in healthcare, especially post COVID-19, new approaches to diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss are necessary to meet patients’ needs and expectations.

Along with telehealth, mobile audiology—often in the form of a van equipped with audiometric devices—is a growing trend in personalized healthcare. Mobile audiology can help healthcare providers reach patients outside the traditional clinic environment, including in homes and workplaces.

Hearing Help at Home

Hearing loss is an invisible and frequently overlooked cause of disability among adults aged 55 and over, affecting an estimated 30% of the demographic. It commonly contributes to other physical and mental conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and depression. Despite the prevalence of hearing impairment, primary care physicians rarely screen or test for it. The result is that 75% of patients remain under-diagnosed and under-treated. [2]

While barriers to hearing screening exist on the clinical side, they also persist on the patients’ part. Reasons adults with hearing loss do not seek treatment include perceived stigma surrounding disability and shortage of nearby audiology clinics. Lack of access to a hearing loss expert is especially prominent in rural areas where untreated hearing impairment can be twice as prevalent compared to more densely populated regions. [3]

Mobile audiology offers a solution that encourages patients to seek hearing healthcare, particularly in rural settings. A home visit by a hearing loss specialist can reduce patients’ mental apprehensions and remove distance as a deterrent to diagnosis.

Innovation for Industrial Settings

The benefits of mobile audiology are not limited to in-home care. In fact, the workplace is the most common location for adults to acquire hearing impairment. About 25% of all workers have been subjected to hazardous noise on the job, and about 16% of noise-exposed tested workers have a material hearing loss. [4] Due to the hazards of loud working conditions, the Occupational Health and Safety Organization (OSHA) has implemented regulations to reduce workers’ exposure to noise and to test employees for workplace-induced hearing loss.

Workplaces that are mandated to comply with OSHA’s hearing conservation guidelines can reap the benefits of the flexibility and customization mobile audiology provides. Mobile audiology services can include OSHA-mandated facility sound testing and required annual audiometric exams for employees. Mobile audiology can aid worker productivity and safety as the unit is situated on-site, so the need for travel is eliminated. It can also be staffed to cover shift workers doing away with the need for day-shift workers to seek audiologist appointments during hours when traditional clinics may be closed. 

The technical advances offered by mobile audiology providers can also aid in the reporting, reviewing, and storing of facility noise evaluation and employee audiometric testing data due to their use of web-based applications. This can assist management in monitoring and preventing noise-related hazards and help them reassess their hearing conservation plan if necessary.

Mobile audiology, in home and at work, allows adults access to high-tech, personalized care that eliminates obstacles related to time, distance, and stigma. Through this novel approach to audiometric testing and treatment, clinicians can detect and mitigate hearing loss ensuring the needs of untreated patients are not just heard but met.

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