Project Lead(s): Matthew Bromwich
In 2008, the WHO estimated that 664 million people had hearing impairment and that 80% of them lived in low- and middle-income countries
Only 20% of the world’s population has access to hearing testing and only one in 40 will be fitted with a hearing aid. In all of Africa, there are only 160 audiologists for over one billion people.
The project team turned a recently developed, research-only iPad audiometer into a U.S. Food & Drug Administration- and Health Canada-approved, commercial-grade medical device called “ShoeBOX Audiometry” that can produce a diagnostic audiogram. The solution is 'cloud-connected', meaning that patient data can be stored and managed from any web browser, and downloaded or exported to another file (such as an electronic medical record or EMR).
The mobile, point-of-care diagnostic audiometer is so easy to use that virtually anyone is able to test hearing in as little as five minutes.
The test is fun, accurate, inexpensive and has been validated by peer-reviewed research against the gold standard – sound booth audiometric testing. It works independent of language and can be used by anyone over age three. The solution is so easy to use that even non-hearing health professionals can be trained to administer hearing tests.
Over the course of nine days in Uganda, 639 school children were tested for hearing loss using the iPad audiometer. It was also used to test the hearing of 209 children in Iqaluit in Canada’s far north.
As a result, dozens of children have now been referred for the appropriate follow-up care. Had their hearing loss not been detected, they could have suffered the debilitating effects of this disability, including emotional, cognitive and speech delays.
One of the audiometers was left in Uganda and is now in daily use by the local ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor, as a sustainable resource to the community.
The project team plans to apply for Phase II Transition To Scale funding, in partnership with Guyana where there is already an existing relationship with the Ministry of Health through partners at theWestern University.
For more information about this innovation in mobile healthcare, visit www.shoebox.md.