Fine-tuning is a key part of the hearing aid fitting process and making sure that the clients are satisfied with their hearing aids. This applies not only to new users but even to experienced users who are getting new hearing aids (Boymans and Dreschler, 2012). While upgrades in digital processing and features are considered improvements that will provide more benefit to the clients, there still might be differences that can require some acclimatization. Particularly with the introduction of connectivity, hearing aids continually become more technical to operate which may make some clients insecure. Follow-ups and fine-tuning appointments give clients the reassurance of knowing that you’re offering continued support and that their satisfaction is important.
So how do you make the clients more secure and help them to get used to their new hearing aids without becoming frustrated or overwhelmed? Fine-tuning is one of the primary tools for gradually helping clients along their fitting journey. It allows the clients to feel like there is always the chance to improve things about the hearing aids with which they might struggle. But for the fine-tuning procedure itself, how do you know what are the best adjustments to make to improve the client’s experience? Fine-tuning is not a skill that is easily taught and there are no official guidelines to follow. Experience tends to be the main source of knowledge for fine-tuning hearing aids (Anderson et.al., 2018). This can leave some HCPs feeling unsure about helping their clients achieve the best fitting. To add another element of mystery to fine-tuning, there are differences between manufacturers that may affect one’s ability to perform fine-tuning. It could be that a trick that you might have used with one software, i.e., adjusting the compression ratios, is not available in all the fitting software versions that you use.
For Bernafon hearing aids fitted with Oasisnxt, you can now refer to the Fitting Assistant. The Fitting Assistant is designed specifically for Oasisnxt and gives suggested adjustments based on pre-defined comments that clients will make regarding their hearing aids. It also facilitates your interaction with the clients since sometimes they can’t find the exact words to explain their experience. Ask them for examples and then use the list of comments provided by the Fitting Assistant to narrow down the source of any dissatisfaction so that you can optimize the settings to meet their personal needs.
The Fitting Assistant uses an algorithm that is supported by a set of rules to determine the best fine-tuning solution. The solutions are technical and objective as they are not dependent upon the subjective judgment of the HCP. Not that subjective opinions are always bad, rather, they can be very insightful. But the Fitting Assistant offers HCPs with less experience as well as those with a limited amount of time, proven methods to fine-tune their client’s hearing aids quickly and confidently.
Use the extra time saved by the Fitting Assistant during follow-up appointments as an opportunity to reinforce instructions that may have been forgotten due to the rush of information received with the new hearing aids. Continue to offer counseling. While trying to learn how to manipulate the new hearing aids, tips for better hearing could be forgotten or at least placed on the “back burner” of your clients’ minds. Remind clients that understanding is not an assured outcome of hearing and that it requires some practice and techniques.
Remind clients that understanding is not an assured outcome of hearing and that it requires some practice and techniques.
Try out the Fitting Assistant with your next follow-up appointment. Even those of you that are seasoned HCPs might be surprised by a new method of attacking a problem that you haven’t tried before. And for those at the earlier stages of their career, let the Fitting Assistant take the guess work out of fine-tuning as you gather experience and learn from the adjustments made using this great tool.
For more details about the Bernafon Fitting Assistant, read the TiA: Bernafon Oasisnxt Fitting Assistant – confident fine-tuning.
Anderson, M.C., Arehart, K.H., and Souza, P.E. (2018). Survey of current practice in the fitting and fine-tuning of common signal processing features in hearing aids for adults, Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, 29(2), 118-124. DOI: 10.3766/jaaa.16107
Boymans, M. and Dreschler, W.A. (2012). Audiologist-driven versus patient-drive fine tuning of hearing instruments, Trends in Amplification, 16(1), 49-58.