A Tale of Two Patients

Patient A lives on his cellphone.  His entire calendar is saved to his device.  He texts.  He Zooms.  He Googles.  To get from Point A to Point B, he asks Siri and she directs him.  Need a recipe? He has an app for that.  Need a book? His phone reads it to him.  Bored waiting for a doctor’s appointment.  Candy Crush to the rescue?


Patient B hates his cellphone.  He only carries it because his kids make him.  His calendar is a pile of appointment cards.  Meetings are face to face or not at all.  Maps and atlases are how he gets directions.  Need a recipe?  Where is Grandma’s recipe box.  Need a book?  Go to the library.  Bored waiting for a doctor’s appointment.  Look at a 10 year old copy of Good Housekeeping.


Two different patients.  Two different ways of interacting with modern technology.  


Hearing aid manufacturers have been working for years to connect hearing aids directly to our cellphones.  And when they are connected, it can be a beautiful thing.  Calls on the cellphone can be heard more clearly.  The hearing aids can be controlled using the cellphone as a remote.  The hearing aids can even be of assistance in an emergency and notify friends and family if the patient has fallen! 


But those same devices do not have to connect to a cellphone.  They have been designed with their first priority being to help a patient towards better hearing.  Their second priority is to connect to the cellphone.  So Patient B does not need to be fearful of the hearing aid technology and how complex it can get.  Patient B will get better hearing.  Patient A can enjoy hearing better and having a new way to use their cellphone.  


We now have hearing aid technology that not only helps patients towards better hearing, but can, when combined with a smart phone: 


  • Detect if you have fallen and text up to three loved ones alerting them to your fall and your location.

  • Stream your phone calls, videos, and music directly from your cellphone into your hearing aids

  • Keep track of your steps

  • Monitor how involved you and your brain are in your daily activities

  • Provide reminders for various tasks including to take your medication

  • Translate conversations in up to 27 different languages

  • Transcribe conversations so that you can review what was said (think instructions from your physician)

  • Monitor your heart rate (with the correct receiver attached)

  • Connect you to Alexa

  • And much, much more.


The question then becomes, do I need all of that technology?  Patient A wants all of that technology.  Patient B is scared of it!


Over the past several years of fitting different versions of this technology to a wide variety of patients, I have learned that each patient will use different aspects of the features.  One will use the translate feature to talk with his ranch hands.  Another uses the transcribe feature to support what he thinks he is hearing while talking to his friends over coffee in the morning.  Another will use the reminder feature to help him remember it is time to end his conference calls and walk the dog.  


Yet there are many patients who never access any of the features and just let the hearing aids do their primary job, help them to hear better.  The nice thing for these patients is that the technology is there if their lifestyle changes to a point where they need it (for example: a health issue makes them an increased fall risk).


The lesson learned is, “Don’t let technology scare you!”  The Doctors of Audiology at West Texas Rehabilitation Center’s Hearing Department can help you select the right hearing aids for your hearing loss and listening lifestyle.  And then they can help you make those devices as complex or as simple as you need them to be.


Call us today at 325-739-3490 to see how we can be of help.



Dr. Carri Ray, Au.D., CCC-A, FAAA
Doctor of Audiology