Fitting and Dispensing Hearing Aids, a popular introductory textbook, has just been published in its second edition in September. We managed to listen in to a conversation between its two authors, Brian Taylor and H. Gustav Mueller, who were exchanging some thoughts regarding their new 2nd Edition.
BT: You know Gus, when we wrote the first edition of this book, I remember us talking about the fact that there seemed to a fair number of professionals who maybe weren’t following Best Practice when they were fitting hearing aids. We thought that it might simply be because they didn’t exactly know what was called for in Best Practice, or maybe it never had been laid out for them in an orderly manner.
HGM: And we thought a book like ours might help . . .
BT: Right. Do you think it did?
HGM: I’d certainly like to think so. We sold a lot of copies, so that’s a good start! But honestly, when I travel around, I don’t see as much change over the past five years as I thought might happen. Let’s take pre-fitting testing for instance. We have some great speech-in-noise tests available for clinical use like the QuickSIN, the BKB-SIN and the WIN. We talked about all of these in the book, provided step-by-step guidelines, yet I just don’t really see an uptake—for some reason, audiologists and hearing instrument specialists seem to have a love affair with monosyllables in quiet, which really have little use for the fitting of hearing aids.
BT: Maybe we’re expecting things to happen too fast. I think it’s good we expanded that section on pre-fitting speech recognition testing in the current book—hopefully more readers will take notice. And as you know Gus, I’ve always been a fan of the ANL. I just saw that there has been over 40 articles published on that test in the past 12 years! That’s another easy-to-do test, and it really provides information that you cannot learn by doing speech recognition testing.
HGM: Part of Best Practice is picking the right technology for the right person. I recall you spent a lot of time researching all the new technology that has come out in recent years for this 2nd Edition.
BT: Things change pretty fast in that area. I think we’ve added some great new sections on wireless connectivity, frequency lowering, and audio data transfer between hearing aids. Like the first edition, rather than getting into the intricate technical details of various features, we focus on how this technology benefits the patient. For example, in the chapter that covers wireless connectivity and audio data transfer between hearing aids, we write about how these new features enhance benefit in background noise, and how candidates are identified.
HGM: And, of course, verification of the fitting is critical. The best hearing aid in the world is no better than a PSAP if it’s programmed wrong. I think our new section on speechmapping will be extremely helpful for people who are just getting started using probe-mic measures. As we described, recent research clearly has shown that you can’t simply rely on what you see simulated on the software fitting screen. As, of course, all those special features that you talked about, such as frequency lowering, need to be verified in the real ear too!
With all that said, however, we also know that verification alone is not enough to demonstrate to patients, their families, and even third-party payers that a new set of hearing aids is worth the investment—so, we can’t forget about outcome measures.
BT: Yes, Gus, it seems there are always a couple of new outcome measures to talk about. With all of the recent research on the impact of untreated hearing loss on other conditions, like cognitive function, social isolation, and overall mental health, we added a section on validated self-reports to measure the impact hearing aid use may have on these common conditions. Even if you’re not inclined to measure those types of downstream outcomes, we added more detail on using the International Outcome Inventory for Hearing Aids (IOI-HA). As you know, many audiologists and hearing instrument specialists neglect to conduct any outcome measures. We cover the reasons this is a bad idea, and suggest, if you are only going to use one measure, it ought to be the IOI-HA.
HGM: And you know, some people suggested that it was a little silly for us to use our chapter themes of country music, movies, wine tasting, baseball, and all the others, but I’m glad we kept that going in this 2nd Edition.
BT: Me too. Who said you can’t have fun and learn about hearing aid fitting at the same time? After all, it’s worked all these years for the two of us!