1.9 min readPublished On: May 16, 2024

The Connection Between AI and Audiology is Not What You Might Think

Audiology is a specific branch of health care more in demand than ever. Our aging population is more aware of the technologic advancements that could provide a better quality of life by improving their hearing loss. Technology has also given those born without hearing reason to hope.

The number of audiologists across the country falls short of what’s needed to meet this increasing demand, by some estimates between 20 and 30 percent. Approximately 75 audiology programs in the U.S. are barely producing graduates at a rate to replace those retiring or leaving the field for varied reasons.

Like many other service-based professions, audiologists are concentrated in urban areas, making it hard to find services in rural areas. Efforts to mitigate the shortage in these areas via tele-audiology only address a fraction of the problem.

Is AI the Solution?

Another technological solution might be AI. Although it is still in its development phase, AI is being proposed in many industries to resolve shortages in personnel and expertise. However, some people believe audiology is not a field where technology can be a replacement for real humans.

“In the battle between technology and human touch, it’s clear—AI may assist, but the essence of audiology lies in our humanity,” says Dr Kristen Weinbaum, audiologist and owner of Precision Hearing in Clermont.

As AI encroaches on various industries, audiologists stand as staunch defenders of personalized, empathetic care in hearing health care.

Intricate hearing issues require the empathy and personalized care that only a human audiologist can provide. Individualized treatment is a common phrase in medical vernacular, and it applies to audiology, as well. People living with hearing loss, whether partial or complete, temporary or permanent, require a tailored treatment that an audiologist is best able to provide.

AI cannot possibly understand the varied nuances of speech and language that an audiologist experiences every day. Non-verbal cues are another important part of communication that AI is not able to grasp.

The key to graduating more audiologists into the profession to meet the increasing demand for their services could hinge on growing the educational programs and incentivizing students to enroll in them. Another important factor might be funding initiatives to draw audiologists to underserved rural areas of the country.

About the Author: AkersArt


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