In some recent hearing care-related news, South African startup, the hearX Group, alongside the American Academy of Audiology, just launched the first comprehensive hearing loss screening app available in the United States. This mobile application, known as hearAmerica, was officially unveiled at the Academy’s 2018 annual conference in Nashville, Tennessee in mid-April and is already garnering a lot of attention.
The application’s designers hope that this app will allow people to test their hearing from the comfort of their own homes. The hearX Group anticipates that the app will allow people to receive an accurate detection of their hearing loss so that they will know when to seek professional medical care.
About The App
Since hearing loss often goes undetected, the Academy hopes that hearAmerica will encourage people to be more proactive about monitoring their hearing health. The app will be available on most smartphones, so potential users could simply spend a bit of a free evening taking a hearing screening test.
The hearAmerica app was designed specifically for people with particularly busy schedules who might not have the time to visit a hearing healthcare professional for a screening test. Instead of being discouraged by a lack of time, the app’s developers hope that people will be encouraged to seek medical care if the screening test detects potential hearing loss.
The app even tracks individual’s hearing over time so that people can see trends in their hearing abilities. Moreover, if the app detects a potential hearing problem, it will connect the individual to the nearest hearing healthcare professional so that they can get the care they need.
The App’s Limitations
While this app strives to make hearing healthcare available and accessible to all, it’s important to note that it’s really no replacement for help from a trained and experienced professional. Although this smartphone app has some great features (particularly the ability to measure your hearing over time), it has some significant drawbacks, particularly in the quality of the hearing test.
Since hearAmerica is designed to be used anywhere, it is difficult for it to match the quality of a professional hearing screening test. When you visit a hearing healthcare provider, your hearing screening test will likely take place in a soundproof box or with noise-canceling headphones. This allows the test to be incredibly accurate and to minimize the effect of outside noises on your results. Unlike a professional hearing screening test, a smartphone app can’t provide this type of precision. This isn’t to say that such apps are useless, but rather that they have important limitations that need to be considered before use.
A hearing healthcare professional, on the other hand, has years of training and experience in providing accurate, quality hearing health screenings. Additionally, they are particularly well suited to offer personalized hearing care advice based on your test results. While a smartphone hearing test app could alert you to potential hearing loss, at the moment, it cannot differentiate between a hearing issue due to excessive wax buildup and physical damage to the inner ear. So, while these tests may be convenient, one might take the test at home only to have to sit through another one at a professional’s office.
hearAmerica And Your Hearing Health
Although we’re excited to see new technological advancements in hearing healthcare, it’s important to understand when and where this technology is most useful and appropriate. While the hearAmerica app can encourage people to seek out help from a hearing healthcare provider based on at-home test results, we need to keep in mind the value of a professional consultation.
So, if you choose to download the app we hope that you find it useful and convenient. But, remember that your hearing healthcare professional is the ultimate source for reliable information and accurate hearing screening tests. If you’re concerned about your hearing, don’t wait for the app to be publically available – contact your hearing healthcare professional to schedule an appointment to discuss your needs.