New telecommunication technology that delivers specialist hearing health services to the outback and
Australia’s nearby pacific neighbours has been successfully trialled by researchers from the HEARing
Cooperative Research Centre (HEARing CRC).

HEARing CRC Chief Executive Officer, Associate Professor Robert Cowan, said several of the CRC’s research
projects have used new technologies to deliver remote hearing healthcare that includes configuring cochlear
implants to improve performance (known as mapping) and undertaking paediatric hearing assessments.
“A good example is our Management of Cochlear Implants Using Remote Technologies project which is
developing procedures where audiologists can have remote consultations with their patients via the
internet. By having such a setup, that includes video conferencing technologies, an individual who has
received a cochlear implant can receive follow up device management and habilitation consultations without
having to go into the clinic,” A/Prof Cowan explained.

“One of our Members involved in this project, the University of Queensland, has been effectively using a
specialised Australian telehealth support system called eHAB to work remotely with children between ages
of three and 12 with cochlear implants.

A similar project based at the Sydney Cochlear Implant Clinic has had success with providing cochlear implant mapping support to patients located in the pacific nation of Samoa.

Preliminary results from this work have shown that 83% out of the 70 clients who had remote consultations
were pleased with the outcome.”

A further challenge for hearing health providers operating in remote Australia is finding ways to provide
timely and effective hearing assessments in areas where health professionals and facilities are scarce or
difficult to establish.

The Remote Assessment of Hearing project based at the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC)
in Sydney has been undertaking similar investigations. For this project, researchers trialed different
combinations of technologies to provide both initial paediatric hearing screening and full audiological followup
assessment as required. According to Conjoint Professor Greg Leigh from RIDBC, the results have been
very encouraging.

The results of these projects will steer the development of clinical guidelines for the emerging field of
internet‐ based audiology as well as the development of training modules for the HEARing CRC’s forthcoming
HEARnet website.

The findings of the HEARing CRC’s tele‐audiology research are also highly relevant to other health service
providers operating in rural and remote Australia. In addition, it is also likely to resonate in other countries
where large distances and a shortage of audiological professionals can affect the quality of hearing health
services.

HEARing CRC research is financially supported by the Cooperative Research Centres Program – a
Commonwealth Government Initiative.

For further information contact: Greg Lawrence, HEARnet & Media Manager
e: glawrence@hearingcrc.org, t: (03) 9035 5351, mob: 0431 426623.