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With so many options for clinical audiology supplies, it's time to narrow down the list of essential products that audiologists have come to rely on every day.
Author: Jodi Little, Au.D.
Dr. Jodi Little is a native of Colorado. She has over 20 years of audiology experience serving both pediatric and adult patients in clinical and educational settings. Read more about Jodi's background.
Opening a new audiology practice or transitioning to a new clinic can be a daunting task and may even seem a bit overwhelming at first. However, everything you need is right at your fingertips with the convenience of online ordering and web-based services that audiologists are using and relying upon every day to make clinic life easier and more efficient. Stocking up on the audiology product “must-haves” will keep the flow of your clinic moving so that you can focus on patient care.
1. Otoscope: The Otoscope is one of the most important diagnostic tools an audiologist will purchase. While there are a wide variety of Otoscopes available on the market, from a basic pocket light to the Digital Otoscope and the Video Otoscope, it’s important to purchase the right instrument for you. The Otoscopic exam gives the audiologist the first glimpse into the patient’s overall hearing health and is an integral part of the audiological exam. The right magnification and lighting are imperative and will guide the audiologist in the next step in the diagnostic process. Although some audiologists choose a Digital Otoscope (ease of sharing images in reports) or even a Video Otoscope (powerful counseling tool), a compact Otoscope such as the Heine Mini 3000 Otoscope can do the job and help keep costs down at this critical time in growing or transitioning to a new audiology practice.
How the Otoscope feels in your hand is an important factor, which is why a compact design is a great choice! The lightweight design of the Heine mini makes it easy to use and the lighting from the Xenon halogen bulb provides the perfect illumination with the right amount of magnification (3x). Audiologists are known for using the Otoscope for more than looking in ears. This compact Otoscope is great for magnifying hearing aid serial numbers and looking into receiver/microphone ports when cleaning or troubleshooting a device. The Otostope does the trick and is an easy and inexpensive option for any audiology practice and a guaranteed “must-have”.
2. Infection Control Products: Infection control ranks top of the list for any audiologist wanting to be successful in private practice. Keeping the audiology lab stocked with the appropriate infection control products will be imperative in the day-to-day clinical operations and safety of staff and patients. The first thing most audiologists reach for when they enter the audiology lab or exam room is the canister of Audio Wipes. Audio Wipes have hospital grade disinfectant and are alcohol-free so they won’t harm silicone, rubber, or any acrylic materials of a hearing instrument or earmold. Infection control is obviously a bit more serious than just the Audio Wipe, so you will need to also have a professional grade ultra sonic cleaner and solution for all non-disposable instruments.
3. Ear Wax Removal System: Let’s face it; wax build-up is an everyday hassle we have to face head on if we are going to help our patients improve their hearing. It has to be dealt with fast and effectively at the first audiology appointment if possible. The Audiologist’s Choice Ear Wax Removal System includes wax-softening drops and a bulb syringe, which can often do the trick, used right in the office. If the wax is too dry and hard you may need to send the patient home with the kit, but I always try the drops in the clinic first and will move to a curette system if I am unsuccessful with the drops on my first attempt.
4. Curettes: A Lighted Curette like the Bionix Lighted Ear Curette™ with Magnification will make the cerumen removal task so easy you will quickly accumulate multiple packages and stockpile the curette sizes you love the most. Most cerumen can be easily managed with this type of product, which eliminates the need to send the patient out the door with a home removal remedy. Patients trust their audiologists to help them on the first audiology clinic visit. The lighted curette system is a must-have for any audiologist’s cerumen management toolbox.
5. Cerumen Forceps: It wasn’t until I started fitting extended wear hearing devices that I realized the need for a good pair of cerumen forceps in the audiology practice. Now, this handy tool ranks high on my list of “must-haves” whether I am fitting an extended wear device or managing wax on a patient’s first visit to the audiology clinic. Depending on the chemical make-up of a patient’s cerumen build-up, a wax removal kit and/or a curette may not be able to do the trick alone. With proper training and use of cerumen forceps, wax can be removed without any canal wall contact or irritation. The forceps are also obviously imperative for removal of extended wear devices, which have gained popularity in recent years.
6. Earmold Impression Supplies/Materials: Any successful audiologist is taking several ear impressions each week. To make this process easy and speed up the cleanup, most audiologists prefer an Impression Gun with disposable cartridges. The slim cartridge tip allows for deeper insertion depth when taking second-bend impressions needed for CIC and IIC hearing instruments and there is virtually no cleanup needed. When working with a small ear canal or taking a deep impression, a lubricant will make the job easier. I typically use Oto-Ease to conform a cotton Oto-block to the exact size and shape needed for the individual ear canal prior to insertion. Oto-Ease makes insertion and removal of the Oto-block and the impression itself much more comfortable for your patient. Of course, Oto-Ease is also a great product for extended wear insertions and for patient home use a newly fit patient adjusts to the insertion of their new hearing devices or earmolds at home. Be sure to remember that a little goes a long way!
7. Earmold/Hearing Aid Modification Products: For earmold and shell modifications a Lathe/Finishing machine or a simple grinder and a handheld drill can do the trick. You will need a variety of drill bits to make sure that you are equipped for any shell modification project. I also recommended stocking up on a finishing spray to give the modified product the professional finish it deserves.
8. Hearing Aid Parts/Repair Products: Hearing aid replacement/repair parts are manufacturer specific and can usually be ordered as kits with a variety of parts and pieces to repair the basic and most common repairs: battery doors, microphone covers, receivers, receiver wires, earhooks, etc. With more and more audiologists dispensing open-fit hearing devices, the replacement parts; although cumbersome, are readily available and easy to work with. The trick is to keep everything labeled and organized, as the parts are tiny and not interchangeable across manufacturers.
9. Batteries/Battery Related Products: Every audiology clinic needs to stay on top of their stock when it comes to Hearing Aid Batteries. It’s imperative that all sizes are stocked and that you have a good inventory tracking system to ensure that you never run low. A Battery Tester for the audiologist will be helpful to ensure that the end-user is getting the most out of each battery by avoiding early replacement. It’s also handy to have a battery removal tool in the audiology lab as well as a magnetic insertion/removal tool like the one included in the Audio Kit Hearing Aid Cleaner. This 5-in-1 tool is especially handy for your patients with vision or dexterity difficulties as the handle is easier to manage and keeping all 5 tools in one package is a feature patients and audiologists appreciate. The tool includes a cleaning brush, wax pick, tube & vent cleaner, battery door opener and magnetic battery insertion/removal tool.
10. Moisture Control Products: Moisture-related problems will always be a challenge in the hearing aid industry. As audiologists, we must manage moisture both in our audiology clinics as well as providing at-home products and strategies to keep our patients’ hearing devices working well for years to come. Every audiologist needs a professional grade dehumidifier and a vacuum system. There are several on the market. I like the Jodi Pro Hearing Aid Vacuum for in-office use and can often revive a “dead” hearing aid with this professional grade system. Depending on the climate where you practice, your patient may be able to use a simple Dry Aid Kit for overnight storage of their hearing instrument/s between audiology visits. If moisture becomes a significant problem a professional grade system such as the Dry and Store Global II may be warranted for home use.
Although this list of “must-have” audiology products is far from comprehensive, I hope it’s helpful in getting you started in your new clinical endeavors. Getting the essential audiology products purchased and organized in the clinic will help you keep your focus where it belongs: on your patients’ hearing health.
Here's a quick recap of the 10 Must-have Products for Your New Audiology Practice:
Additional audiology resources:
10 Must-Have Products For Your New Audiology Practice
Dr. Jodi Little is a native of Colorado. She has over 20 years of audiology experience serving both pediatric and adult patients in clinical and educational settings. She enjoys all phases of the diagnostic and rehabilitative process and thrives on helping her patients find unique solutions to communication challenges. Dr. Little is passionate about hearing conservation and is a sought after speaker on the topic of hearing loss in the dental field. Dr. Little completed a Master of Science from Portland State University in 1994 and a clinical doctorate in Audiology from the Arizona School of Health Sciences in 2002. Outside of work, Dr. Little enjoys playing tennis and spending time with her husband, children and extended family.