Hearing Aid Verification
What is Hearing Aid Verification?
Hearing aid verification is the process of determining whether a hearing aid meets a measurable standard or target setting. This is completed in several ways. First, all hearing aids are received from the manufacturer with a specification sheet. It is important to verify that the hearing aid matches the manufacturer’s specifications. This is usually done by measuring the response of a hearing aid in a special test chamber, and comparing it to the manufacturer’s specifications. There are tolerances published by the American National Standards Institute which are used to determine if a hearing aid is functioning properly. This is an internal quality control measure that we use to ensure all hearing aids are within their manufacturer’s specifications.
Secondly, it is important to verify that the hearing aid is meeting target gain and output levels. This is usually referred to as Real Ear Measurement, and involves placing a probe tube in the ear canal to measure the hearing aid’s response. There are several well-studied algorithms that are used to derive the target setting. Because hearing aid responses can vary dramatically in different ears, it is not possible to know if the hearing aid is meeting its target setting without verifying the response in the patient’s ear canal.
Why is Hearing Aid Verification Important?
Modern, digital hearing aids are programmed for a patient’s hearing levels through computer software. The hearing aid is connected to a computer, and the manufacturer’s recommended settings are uploaded to the hearing aid’s computer chip. The manufacturer’s recommended setting is a reasonable starting point for a hearing aid fitting, but should be used in conjunction with real ear measurement to ensure a more accurate fitting. Unfortunately, research continues to show that most patient’s are not being fit using real ear measurements. Although real ear measurements are recommended in many best practice publications, the reality is that they continue to be dramatically underused. In the instance of direct-to-consumer hearing aid models, where the patient orders a device that has been “pre-programmed” for their hearing loss, verification testing is impossible. In most cases, the result is a wildly inaccurate fitting, resulting in poor patient satisfaction and, ultimately, hearing aid non-use.