Singapore’s National University Hospital (NUH) is enhancing accessibility for hearing health services by bringing its various services to the heartlands.
The audiology team from the Department of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery has stretched their services to Singapore’s heartlands.
- A new Satellite Hearing Clinic opens its doors in Jurong Medical Centre.
- Three new Mobile Audiology Clinics serve residents at Bukit Batok Polyclinic, Choa Chu Kang Polyclinic, and Queenstown Polyclinic.
- This move complements the NUH Mobile Hearing Clinic established in 2015, housed in a dedicated 24-footer container truck.
Benefits to the Community
Older individuals can now effortlessly access these services, which include basic hearing assessments, hearing aid evaluations, and rehabilitation services.
Promoting a Healthier Singapore
The initiative is in sync with Healthier SG’s objectives. NUH has mobilised these clinics for health events like screenings to emphasise preventive health.
Innovative Boothless Audiometry
The new mobile clinics incorporate a boothless audiometry protocol. Piloted by experts from NUH and the National University of Singapore’s Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, this method slashes costs and allows flexible hearing assessments without soundproof booths.
Previously, 73% of Singapore’s elderly were hesitant about hospital hearing tests. Unfortunately, only 5% of those needing hearing aids got them. Consequently, Dr Jenny Loo from NUH believes this expansion will offer convenience and heightened awareness about hearing health.
The Hidden Concern of Hearing Loss
A third of individuals over 65 suffer from hearing loss, an often overlooked issue. Therefore, this can lead to cognitive decline, isolation, and even depression. However, studies confirm that hearing aids can mitigate these risks.
Prof. Loh Woei Shyang from NUH emphasised the importance of early intervention, stating that accurate assessments and treatments are crucial for a healthier community.
“Getting accurate hearing assessments, diagnosis, and the right treatment minimises the risk of other developmental health issues, and early intervention can help to promote a healthier community for Singaporeans and the larger population,” said Associate Professor Loh Woei Shyang, Head and Senior Consultant, Department of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery, NUH and Group Chief, Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery, National University Health System.
Evolution in Community Hearing Care
There are three distinct models of community hearing care:
- Mobile Hearing Clinic (MHC): Started in 2015, it features a soundproof audio booth and a treated audio room.
- Mobile Audiology Clinic (MAC) @NUP: Piloted in October 2022, this roving service expanded to more NUPs by June 2023.
- Satellite Hearing Clinic (SHC) @ JMC: Operational since April 2023.
A Peek into the Mobile Audiology Clinic
The roving audiology team comprises three members with advanced tools like an audiometer and hearing aid analyser. This mobile clinic employs the innovative NUS Boothless Audiometry method, letting it rove from one NUP to another seamlessly.
With this initiative, Singapore is not only echoing the importance of hearing health but also ensuring that its residents, especially the elderly, receive timely and effective care at their doorsteps.
From left clockwise: (1) Dr Jenny Loo, Senior Principal Audiologist, NUH, (2) Ms Chon Qian Yu, Senior Audiologist, NUH, (3) Mr Then Tze Kang, Senior Assistant Manager, Department of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery, NUH and (4) Patient Mdm Wong Foon Khwai.
Photo Credit: National University Hospital