- Led by the University of Southampton, in partnership with Wessex Academic Health Science Network, the University of Nottingham, Northumbria University, The Ear Foundation, the National Cochlear Implant Users Association and IE Digital.
- Scaled up a remote care service where patients are offered online support tools, home hearing tests and help to adjust devices themselves.
- Over 170 patients are enrolled onto CHOICE, which improves access to care and increases patient empowerment.
- Project ran from 2018 to January 2021.
Each year around 1,500 people in the UK have a cochlear implant, an electronic medical device that replaces the function of a damaged inner ear. These patients need lifetime annual follow up at one of 18 specialist centres in the country. For some patients, their nearest centre may be several hours away from their home, meaning there can be significant financial costs, travel time and inconvenience.
A team from the University of Southampton has designed and implemented a remote care pathway: CHOICE – cochlear implant home care. Through this Scaling up Improvement project, CHOICE has now been rolled out in seven cochlear implant clinics across the UK, with over 170 patients enrolled between launch in June 2019 and June 2020.
The CHOICE website has a home hearing check, listening practice and resources to allow patients to care for their hearing at home; promoting empowerment, independence and positive outcomes. Patients can also order stock and upload photos of the implant site for clinicians to check.
Using CHOICE means patients are unlikely to need routine appointments and only attend hospital if there is a clinical need. Shared decision-making about when the tool is appropriate and beneficial is promoted, recognising that remote care will not suit all patients.
CHOICE has been able to help keep patients supported and reassured throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, when their implant centres were forced to close to non-urgent appointments. There was a significant increase in the number of patients signing up for CHOICE when lockdown measures began.
The independent evaluation by Wessex AHSN was published in December 2021.