MDNews - San Antonio

November 2019

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where they are providing service meet each state's decibel level requirements. They then perform comprehensive hearing tests using the same state-of-the-art equipment used in ENT offices, capturing impor tant results about each patient's hearing. These screenings may be offered as part of annual physicals or wellness exams at no additional cost to the patient, enhancing PHN's value to doctors and the people they serve. "We usually are, on average, in a physician's office twice a week," McCrae says. "We can see a lot of patients on those two days, so it's not disruptive to the physician's practice at all." In addition to conducting the hearing screenings free of charge, PHN also does not bill patients' insurance or ask for copays. In the event that PHN providers detect a degree of hearing loss that impacts a patient's ability to communicate, they determine whether to refer the patient to an ENT or to offer amplification or hearing aid assistance. If a patient chooses to try hearing aids, PHN providers will offer subjective testing via real ear measurement to evaluate the efficacy of the hearing aid fittings. "Our patient-centric culture ensures that patients will be educated about how to wear hearing aides, how to use them and how to maximize their use," McCrae says. "There is a lot of technology involved in hearing aid fittings. Now they are Bluetooth; they are wireless; they interact with your phone and TV. Having people who truly know how to program those products is important. You want to ensure that the patients get everything they can potentially receive, in terms of benefit, from their hearing aid." THE IMPORTANCE OF EARLY DETECTION While hearing loss is not necessarily life- threatening, it does threaten the quality of life for those who experience the condition. When left untreated, it can have social and monetary consequences. "For 90% of the population with hearing loss, their hearing loss is so gradual that they do not even realize it is happening," McCrae says. " You may have hearing loss that is f ive, six or seven years in development before you actually seek help. At that point, you have probably been turning up the TV, leaning in close and having things repeated more of ten, a nd t hose behav iors could be socia lly impacting your life and the lives of those around you." Additionally, individuals with untreated hearing loss have decreased ea rning capacit y b e c a u s e of t he c on d it ion . T hey m ay a l so ex per ience brain changes and problems w i t h a u d i t o r y a t t e n t i o n , comprehension and memory. However, with timely treatment in the form of hearing aids, an estimated 95% of individuals with hearing loss can improve their condition and quality of life. This rate of success has fa r-rea ch i n g i mpl icat ion s, according to Redepenning. "I think our program helps lower the overall cost of health care by detecting hearing loss a nd t hen doi n g somet h i n g about it," Redepenning says. "A lot of health issues, such as depression, dementia, early onset of Alzheimer's and several other things, are related to hearing loss. If we address and treat hearing loss early on, we are helping to preserve those patients' health and safety. "Primar y care physicians can help individuals at risk for cognitive decline and the early onset of dementia; they can help preserve and extend their mental health and independence; and they can reduce the risk of injury-causing falls," he continues. "Treating hearing loss is key, and I think that's a very important part of what we're doing." To l e a r n m o re a b o u t Phys i c i a n s Hearing Network, visit or call 210‑479‑HEAR (4327). n " The Physicians Hearing Network business model is groundbreaking. We are delivering hearing health services at the point of care, which nobody else is doing today." — CHUCK REDEPENNING, PRESIDENT AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, PHYSICIANS HEARING NETWORK 0 8❱❱❱❱❱ C O V E R S T O R Y

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