Enhancing Ear and Hearing Health Access for Children With Technology and Connectivity

Am J Audiol. 2017 Oct 12;26(3S):426-429. doi: 10.1044/2017_AJA-16-0117.


Purpose: Technology and connectivity advances are demonstrating increasing potential to improve access of service delivery to persons with hearing loss. This article demonstrates use cases from community-based hearing screening and automated diagnosis of ear disease.

Method: This brief report reviews recent evidence for school- and home-based hearing testing in underserved communities using smartphone technologies paired with calibrated headphones. Another area of potential impact facilitated by technology and connectivity is the use of feature extraction algorithms to facilitate automated diagnosis of most common ear conditions from video-otoscopic images.

Results: Smartphone hearing screening using calibrated headphones demonstrated equivalent sensitivity and specificity for school-based hearing screening. Automating test sequences with a forced-choice response paradigm allowed persons with minimal training to offer screening in underserved communities. The automated image analysis and diagnosis system for ear disease demonstrated an overall accuracy of 80.6%, which is up to par and exceeds accuracy rates previously reported for general practitioners and pediatricians.

Conclusion: The emergence of these tools that capitalize on technology and connectivity advances enables affordable and accessible models of service delivery for community-based ear and hearing care.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Audiology
  • Automation
  • Cerumen
  • Child
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Ear Diseases / diagnosis
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Hearing Loss / diagnosis*
  • Hearing Tests / methods*
  • House Calls*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Mass Screening
  • Otitis Media / diagnosis*
  • Otoscopy / methods*
  • School Health Services*
  • Smartphone*
  • Technology
  • Video Recording