Purpose: Teleaudiology helps connect patients in rural and underresourced areas to hearing health care providers, minimizing the barrier of geography (Swanepoel et al., 2010). In the United States, teleaudiology is at the initial stages of implementation (Bush, Thompson, Irungu, & Ayugi, 2016). Telehealth researchers recommend conducting a comprehensive planning assessment to optimize implementation and adoption (AlDossary, Martin-Khan, Bradford, Armfield, & Smith, 2017; Alverson et al., 2008; Krupinski, 2015). A geographic analysis of the hearing aid dispensing workforce served as the initial stage of a teleaudiology planning assessment in Arizona. Method: The analysis used publically available data sets from the U.S. Census, Arizona Department of Health Services, and the U.S. Veterans Administration. Geographic information system tools were used to analyze and visually represent population, potential teleaudiology site data, and hearing aid dispensing workforce (defined as audiologists and hearing instrument specialists licensed to dispense hearing aids in Arizona). ArcGIS was used to generate road networks and travel distance estimations. Results: The number of audiologists per county ranged from 0 to 216 (average 22.1). Six out of Arizona’s 15 counties lacked a single audiologist, and 2 counties lacked a hearing instrument specialist. Potential expansion sites for teleaudiology were located in areas of the state that lacked practice locations for hearing aid services. Conclusions: There are geographic areas of Arizona that lack licensed hearing aid locations yet are populated by individuals who may need services. Resource availability data inform teleaudiology program expansion. Future research will include data from providers and community members on their perceived needs for services.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Speech and Hearing