Telehealth expands healthcare options

Meghan Williams

Mark Krumm, speech pathology and audiology professor, holds a Webcam that allows him to see patients outside a clinic. Krumm specializes in the use of telehealth technology, which allows patients in rural areas access to healthcare without long-distance t

Credit: Steve Schirra

The telehealth field will soon expand with the help of a Kent State associate professor who specializes in evaluation of hearing problems through telehealth technology.

Growing up in Wyoming, Mark Krumm, associate professor in the School of Pathology and Audiology, said there were a lot of rural areas with a shortage of healthcare providers. Cold temperatures caused issues when patients would travel far distances for healthcare.

Telehealth, a practice used by health professionals in several fields, creates easier access for individual health care.

In 1997, the Comprehensive Telehealth Act promoted allied health professional involvement in telepractice. Health professionals use this service by connecting one electronic medium to another.

Krumm said telepractice saves money by using Webcams, cheap software and a computer. The service can typically use telephone conferencing, faxing or e-mail.

An audiology telehealth model may include interactive video, computer remote control capabilities, a high-speed network and audiology peripherals. A trained assistant at the remote site prepares the patient for the testing procedure. An audiologist at a distant location using a computer can direct the tests on the patient.

Krumm is collaborating with the Cleveland Clinic on two tests that will provide comprehensive hearing service.

The first test will be the pure-tone testing, known as the beep and tone test, a speech test and otoscopy — which uses a video to look in the eardrum.

The second test involved is cochlear implants, which measures stimulus in hearing. The implant can read the stimulus, and if it is robust, the implant is working. The computer will be able to read the response.

Audiology may not use telehealth considerably for another decade, but it will be ready when the time comes, Krumm said.

“If I couldn’t see it as valuable, I wouldn’t be doing it,” he said.

Contact student health reporter Meghan Williams at [email protected].