Airline pilots always use checklists to land and take off. Regardless of how many years of experience they have or how confident they are in their abilities, they still consult checklists to make absolutely certain they do not deviate from their standard routine. In an emergency or other difficult situation, following a checklist helps keep you safe and on track. It reminds you of all the pertinent details and it ensures that nothing gets overlooked.
I also use checkIists in my audiology practice. I attach pre-printed forms that to the outside and inside of each patient’s file. These forms contain a lot of simple but useful information. For example, it reminds me of a patient’s “preferred name.” So if a woman named Margaret has told me, “Please call me ‘Peg,’” I write this information on the top line of her information charts so I won’t forget and call her Meg.
Another line on my patient checklist concerns price. This is a critically important topic, so it is essential to make sure there is no misunderstanding regarding the charge for the hearing aids, auxiliary items, or professional services. Prices should be written down, clearly and simply. Any misunderstanding or dispute over price quickly destroys a business/professional relationship.
A PRE-FITTING CHECKLIST
When the office staff prepares a pair of hearing aids prior to the fitting, they can benefit from following a checklist. This list can include a great many items, including the specifics of the hearing aids, earmolds, batteries, our office calendar, the instruction booklets for the hearing aids, a copy of our office brochure, a summary sheet on the remote control, the bill of sale, a how-to-set-the-volume paper, and the sack I put them all in to give to a patient. The checklist may also include comprehensive notes on taking care of hearing aids, a how-to-care-for-the-external-ear brochure for patients who have problem with earwax or excessive debris, and handouts on telephones or special needs products.
Each office should also have an information form to help keep everyone organized. These forms are especially valuable to new staff members, but helpful also in reminding us “old timers” to ask all the pertinent questions like, “How well do you hear on the telephone?” Most hard-of-hearing patients can benefit from an amplified telephone, which in California and many other states is available free of charge.