Accommodating Patients with Hearing Loss in Virtual Medicine
Letter from the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association (CHHA-MB) to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba registrants:
The board of the Manitoba Chapter of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association (CHHA-MB) would like to express our appreciation for the inclusion of issue 5.2.1.vi Adapt the technology for virtual medicine for patients who are deaf, hard of hearing, or visually impaired as a standard of care for virtual medicine.
Hearing loss is the third most prevalent chronic disability affecting Canadians today. According to the Canadian Health Measures study, 54% of Canadians aged 40-79 have at least mild hearing loss in the high-frequency range and 77% of them had not perceived any loss of hearing. We as an organization have heard from members of the challenges and difficulties in understanding what is being said in virtual meetings. To our dismay, we have also heard that some have chosen to not engage with the health care system in any form including phone and in-person meetings due to the overwhelming challenges their hearing loss imposes.
Virtual meetings present numerous challenges for those with hearing loss. Visual quality is often far from optimal. Connectivity issues, lighting, background noise, and poor audio quality are significant barriers-making it difficult to hear, comprehend, and retain what is being said. Miscommunications and misunderstandings in turn can cause increased patient anxiety, decreased compliance and greater rehospitalizations.
Hearing loss impacts both sender and receiver. Providing closed captioning (a text version of a spoken conversation which usually appears at the bottom of a CPU screen) is an excellent way to increase hearing accessibility during virtual appointments. Captioning will allow for easier and more frequent interaction and communication between patient and physician, as well as greater comprehension of medical terminology, diagnoses, and treatment plans. We’ve asked The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba to encourage all physicians and surgeons in Manitoba to make available and use closed captioning during virtual appointments with hard-of-hearing patients to provide greater hearing accessibility. It is possible that this may benefit many others, including people whose first language is not English, and might help avoid various mistakes and misinterpretations.
This Canadian Audiology Association provides further information on captioning during Virtual appointments: Ten Ways to Improve Hearing Access During Your Next Virtual Meeting
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In appreciation of your consideration of this request,