Telefitting Between Kajetany and Odessa, Ukraine for Cochlear Implants
Hearing implant fitting is a key component of postoperative patients’ healthcare, by providing the optimum auditory nerve electrical stimulation parameters. It often entails time consuming and long travel to a medical centre, with associated costs. In 2009, the Word Hearing Centre introduced the National Network of Teleaudiology to reduce the burden to patients, and it now consists of 21 co-operating centres in Poland and four abroad in the Ukraine (Odessa and Lutsk), Kyrgyzstan (Bishkek), and Belarus (Brest). The centre in Odessa is sufficiently equipped but programming of cochlear implants cannot be conducted by their team there due to a lack of trained specialists and limited experience. This study reports the use of the teleﬁtting service between Kajetany in Poland and Odessa in the Ukraine. Methods: Specialists in Poland connect by videoconference with patients and support specialists via the Internet, and use remote desktop software to access a remote computer and perform fitting. On completion of telefitting, patients completed a questionnaire in which they compared the telefitting experience with face to face conventional fitting. Results: Supported by a local specialist, 316 patients in Odessa underwent remote telefitting by specialists in Kajetany. Over 95% of respondents were; satisfied with telefitting, found it a suitable alternative to standard fitting, felt that they had good contact by videoconference with the audiologist in Poland, and that it saved them time and money. Conclusion: The development of the telefitting model has increased accessibility to hearing care services in Odessa and opens new possibilities for patients.
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