Hearing & Balance Doctors

Staying Current in the Field of Audiology

Staying Current in the Field of Audiology

Recently, I was able to attend the annual convention of the American Academy of Audiology.

This year, the conference was held in Columbus, Ohio, and provided educational opportunities for audiologists like myself to stay current in the latest trends in our field.

Some of the topics I was able to explore included new developments in diagnostics, insurance issues, the value of collaborative care, and the latest in hearing aid technology.

Diagnostics

An emphasis at this year’s conference was placed on the effects of physical trauma to the inner ear.

I learned techniques for diagnosing a condition known as acoustic shock disorder that results from exposure to loud impulse sounds.

Additionally, I saw some of the latest equipment in our field to help diagnose all types of vestibular and hearing disorders. Our clinic has recently acquired new vestibular equipment that will help us provide a better patient experience for those suffering from dizziness and balance problems.

Insurance Issues

The role of Medicare was extensively discussed.

While traditional Medicare does not currently pay for hearing aids, it does pay for 80% of diagnostic testing when medically necessary.

This means evaluations of tinnitus (ringing in the ears), ear infections, difficulty with word understanding, and dizziness — among many other things — are paid for by Medicare as long as you have a referral from your primary care provider.

Also, many Medicare Advantage plans and some private insurances are starting to have hearing aid coverage.

The Value of Collaborative Care

At our clinic, we have long believed in a team approach to healthcare. We work closely with internal medicine doctors, family practitioners, otolaryngologists, neurologists, physical therapists, and others to provide the best care for our patients.

At this year’s conference, an emphasis was placed on creating good relationships with other healthcare providers and collaborating with them. While we feel we do well in this area, we are committed to strengthening our existing relationships with other professionals in our region.

The Latest in Hearing Aid Technology

Advancements in hearing aid technology occur at a steady pace. Some of the new advancements are being made in the area of battery life.

A new model of hearing aid, made by the company Widex, premiered at the convention and it does not take a battery at all. Rather, it runs on fuel.

The fuel is methanol and is put into the hearing aid using a small rectangular cartridge. It takes 20 seconds to fill up the hearing aid for the entire day.

The fuel cartridge needs to be replaced monthly. Additionally, most hearing aid manufacturers are releasing hearing aids with lithium-ion batteries that recharge every night and are able to run all day without any problem.

The Best Way to Stay Up to Date is With Hearing and Balance Doctors

We take great pride at our clinic, Hearing & Balance Doctors, in staying current in the field of audiology.

We strive to provide the highest quality care to all of our patients. If you or a loved one has any concerns or questions about their hearing, balance, or ringing in the ears, please feel free to reach out to us for a free consultation with one of our doctors.

We can be reached at (435) 688-8991 or online at hearingdoctors.net.

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Dr. Ryan Whitaker

Dr. Whitaker joined Hearing & Balance Doctors of Utah in 2009. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from Brigham Young University in 2005 with his Bachelors of Science in Audiology and Speech Pathology. He then received his Doctor of Audiology from the University of Arizona where he minored in Cognitive Neuroscience (the study of how people perceive sound). While at the University of Arizona, he specialized in evoked potentials, specifically researching Cortical Auditory Evoked Potentials and the Acoustic Change Complex. He gained clinical experience at Tucson Ear, Nose, and Throat; St. Joseph’s Hospital Balance Center; Arizona Hearing Specialists; and the Center for Hearing Impaired Children. Dr. Whitaker was raised in Orem, Utah with three older sisters and a younger brother (who is also an audiologist). His grandfather was a cartoonist for the Walt Disney Studios where he drew Donald Duck and many characters in Peter Pan, Cinderella, and Alice in Wonderland before starting the BYU Motion Picture Studio. Dr. Whitaker is married and has three sons. He is passionate about college football and also enjoys hiking in Southern Utah, reading, and traveling. He has traveled extensively through South Asia including Thailand, India, Nepal, and a church mission to the Philippines.

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