Telehealth in audiology: the need and potential to reach underserved communities

Int J Audiol. 2010 Mar;49(3):195-202. doi: 10.3109/14992020903470783.


Permanent hearing loss is a leading global health care burden, with 1 in 10 people affected to a mild or greater degree. A shortage of trained healthcare professionals and associated infrastructure and resource limitations mean that hearing health services are unavailable to the majority of the world population. Utilizing information and communication technology in hearing health care, or tele-audiology, combined with automation offer unique opportunities for improved clinical care, widespread access to services, and more cost-effective and sustainable hearing health care. Tele-audiology demonstrates significant potential in areas such as education and training of hearing health care professionals, paraprofessionals, parents, and adults with hearing disorders; screening for auditory disorders; diagnosis of hearing loss; and intervention services. Global connectivity is rapidly growing with increasingly widespread distribution into underserved communities where audiological services may be facilitated through telehealth models. Although many questions related to aspects such as quality control, licensure, jurisdictional responsibility, certification and reimbursement still need to be addressed; no alternative strategy can currently offer the same potential reach for impacting the global burden of hearing loss in the near and foreseeable future.

MeSH terms

  • Audiology*
  • Cost of Illness
  • Hearing Loss / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening
  • Medically Underserved Area*
  • Telemedicine*