This study aimed to assess and understand, using a retrospective mixed-methods design:
One hundred and two Hearing Australia clients seen for hearing aid fitting were recruited and their clinical outcomes post-fitting were collected via telephone interview. Of these, 45 were seen entirely in-person and 48 received a remote follow-up by telephone or video. Nine clients who were seen for a remote appointment that was not a follow-up appointment were excluded from this analysis.
There were no significant differences in any clinical outcome between those who received a remote follow-up appointment and those who received their entire appointment journey in-person. Outcomes were self-reported hearing aid use, benefit, satisfaction, residual disability, and social isolation.
Clients seen remotely had a significantly weaker preference for in-person services than those seen in-person, although two thirds of them still preferred in-person services over remote services.
A subset of participants (n= 11) was also contacted for a follow-up interview about their experiences with in-person and remote services.
Participants described their experiences with Hearing Australia positively, whether they were seen in-person or remotely. Participants who preferred to be seen in-person stressed the importance of interpersonal relationships and communication that they felt would be strengthened by attending the hearing centre in-person.
This report also discusses a theoretical model that may be useful in designing, implementing, and reviewing technology-based hearing services in the future to improve acceptance by clients.