Modern audiology best practices recommend that all hearing care professionals perform what is known as hearing aid verification. This procedure ensures that after a clinician has tested for a patient’s level and scope of hearing loss, the hearing aid they fit the patient with is amplified at all the correct levels.
Traditionally, a clinician would fit a patient with hearing aids based on the prescriptive loss their audiogram depicts and stop there. Patients might leave with their hearing aid set to the proper sound levels, but this method of hearing aid fittings doesn’t account for the unique differences in each patient’s ears. While one person may have the same hearing loss at the same levels and frequencies as another person, it is highly unlikely that they also have the exact same ear size and shape. Hearing aid verification software and Live Speech Mapping, in particular, allow hearing care professionals to give the patient their most custom fit with objective results.
Learn more about this fitting procedure and how to incorporate it in your office.
What’s the Difference Between Live Speech Mapping and Real Ear Measurements?
Live Speech Mapping is a type of computer-based hearing aid verification. While many often confuse Live Speech Mapping for Real Ear Measurements—the original verification method, there are clear and significant differences. It’s important to note that though REM was the first way clinicians verified hearing aids, Live Speech Mapping and precision hearing aid verification is the direction modern audiometry will take as hearing aids continue to evolve for advanced sound input and output features.
Both REM and LSM help verify that hearing aids have amplification at the correct levels by measuring the sound captured at the patient’s eardrum. The sound is measured by placing a small probe microphone tube 3-5 mm away from the eardrum while the patient has their hearing aids on. The HCP will then play a noise stimulus and refer to their fitting software to see if the hearing aid relays sound at the correct levels and frequencies. The clinician can adjust the hearing aid’s software based on these test results and provide a customized fit for the patient’s hearing aid.
However, one difference you will see between LSM and REM is that LSM uses various real-speech stimuli such as recorded speech that uses all the phonemes of speech, the International Speech Testing Signal (ISTS), or live speech using a spouse or family member's voice. Traditional REM uses non-speech stimuli, making it less attuned to the sounds the patient is likely to hear in their day-to-day lives.
The tests used in Live Speech Mapping also save time for the provider and are better suited for the more technologically advanced hearing instruments you are likely to fit your patients with today.
The Benefits of Live Speech Mapping
Hearing aid verification, and live speech mapping, in particular, is one of modern audiometry’s Best Practices because of the undeniable benefits patients see almost immediately. With Live Speech Mapping, audiologists, dispensers, and hearing instrument specialists can give patients a better experience with hearing aids.
LSM can change how patients perceive the world around them and significantly affect their health. Over-amplified hearing aids can lead to discomfort, tinnitus, dizziness, or even pain. Underamplified hearing aids can lead to social isolation, cognitive decline, and as a result, even dementia.
Patients who enjoy wearing their hearing aids will also be more likely to return to follow-up and annual appointments, helping your practice thrive. This not only helps a patient hear, but it builds a positive rapport with the patient and their family.
Live Speech Mapping is also a great tool to leverage in new patient appointments, especially if a patient has had negative experiences with hearing aids and is reluctant to upgrade or be fit again.
Best Equipment to Try Live Speech Mapping
MedRx Diagnostics offers 3 different hearing aid verification systems. The newest addition is the AWRC, a combination audiometer and wireless verification system. The AWRC gives hearing care professionals access to upgraded computer-based software and newly developed wireless probe microphones. The Bluetooth-enabled microphones give patients and clinicians more freedom in fitting sessions.
The AWRC is perfect for HCPs with limited space or those who enjoy a consolidated hardware set-up for their equipment. To learn more about the AWRC and how we’re making verification more accessible for clinicians across the country, read our blog post, Introducing the MedRx AWRC.
MedRx also offers the ARC, a similar two-in-one audiometry system that provides the same powerful audiometry and live speech mapping capabilities but with wired probe microphones.
Finally, MedRx combines the familiarity of traditional REM testing and modern Live Speech Mapping in the REM Speech+. The REM Speech+ is a computer-based binaural verification system designed as a standalone option for providers who test patients in one office or location and provide hearing aid fittings in another.
The REM Speech+ is also a great option if you’re looking to start Live Speech Mapping, but already have a preferred audiometer.
All MedRx computer-based equipment uses our upgraded Studio software, including the new probe tube depth guide. The probe tube depth guide is a feature that helps clinicians new to verification and hesitant about inserting probe mic tubes into a patient’s ear. This feature enables the clinician to guide the tube into the ear canal and place it in the correct spot—without bumping the patient’s eardrum. The probe tube depth guide is an essential program feature for practitioners just getting started; for a more detailed description, check out our blog post Taking the Fear Out of Probe Tube Placements.
Getting Started with Live Speech Mapping
If Live Speech Mapping isn’t something you currently do within your practice, getting started can seem daunting. Fortunately, MedRx offers various resources for beginner clinicians or experienced clinicians trying Speech Mapping for the first time.
MedRx’s audiometry and verification equipment is computer-based, allowing you to see the product in action before purchasing in one of our free online demonstrations. We can walk you through a typical Live Speech Mapping session or show you specific features beneficial for your use cases.
If you do decide that Live Speech Mapping is something you want to try, we also offer training and set-up assistance to ensure that your verification system is on the correct settings to give you the best results for your patients. All MedRx computer-based systems also come with lifetime support, allowing you to call in with questions if you ever encounter any issues.
Our knowledgeable sales and training team can help you choose the best audiometer for your office and uncover the benefits of Live Speech Mapping in your own office. If you’re interested in getting started with Live Speech Mapping using a MedRx verification system, give us a call at (888)392-1234 to book your free online demonstration today!