Predictions for 2031: Gaby Saunders: The double boon of AI and Covid for personalisation and communication


Future of Audiology: 2031

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Ten years from 2021, the trials of the coronavirus pandemic will have left useful models for audiology in communication and patient care, foretells our twelfth soothsaying hearing specialist of the 15 AWN consulted.

Dr. Gabrielle Saunders is one of the many scientists whose research during the first year of Covid spotlighted an important contribution to optimising outcomes in hearing care, valuable work nurtured in Saunders' case within the bountiful audiological wellspring of the University of Manchester.

© Courtesy of Gabrielle Saunders


Gaby Saunders, Senior Research Fellow and Manager, NIHR Manchester BRC Hearing Device Research Centre, UK

How machine learning is being applied to real world behavioural observations allowing hearing aid outputs to be personalised for individual needs in real time.

How the immature remote and hybrid care pathways that were necessary for managing hearing care during the pandemic are now fully established. We now have infrastructure in place, and validated training and guidelines for audiologists. Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, we have evidence-based methods for differentiating individuals with the clinical and personal profiles to manage and benefit from remote care from those who require or prefer in-person support.

How, as a result of an appreciation of a quieter world during the pandemic (ambient noise levels decreased by almost 3dB between mid-March and April 20201,2), we now have hearing-friendly spaces in which sound levels are controlled so that communication is easier, and the physical and psychological health consequences of environmental noise are reduced.3

1 Smith LM, Wang L, Mazur K, Carchia M, DePalma G, Azimi R, Mravca S, Neitzel R. (2020). Impacts of COVID-19-related social distancing measures on personal environmental sound exposures. Environ. Res. Lett. 15 104094
2 Corrigendum: Impacts of COVID-19-related social distancing measures on personal environmental sound exposures (2020 Environ. Res. Lett. 15 104094)
3 Eriksson C, Pershagen G, and Nilsson M, Biological mechanisms related to cardiovascular and metabolic effects by environmental noise. 2018, WHO Regional Office for Europe: Copenhagen, Denmark. Available here.

Source: Audiology Worldnews EUHA special 2021