Ms Kelly Nicholls1
1Healthy Hearing Program, Queensland Health, Nundah, Australia
The Healthy Hearing Program in Queensland was established in 2004, with universal roll-out completed by 2006. More than 99% of babies are screened each year, and referred babies are seen in one of 13 paediatric diagnostic Audiology sites around the state. The program uses direct referral pathways to audiology, with bilateral refers to be seen for their first audiology appointment within 2 weeks, and unilateral refers within 6 weeks, of screening. Queensland has established audiology protocols for the diagnosis of babies referred from screening, and clinical audit processes that monitor the quality of audiology services delivered to this cohort. In addition, all audiology sites report back to Queensland’s state-wide Healthy Hearing database, QChild.
QChild holds 12 years’ worth of audiology records, of which the potential is only now starting to be realised. The Healthy Hearing Program has commenced analysis of audiology data from newborns who did not pass their AABR screening, looking specifically at hearing loss hit rates based on type of refer and risk factors in combination. Preliminary analysis of data indicates that there are significant differences in terms of patient outcomes, dependent upon type of referral and risk factors present. The findings have significant potential use in clinical decision making, parent and audiologist preparation for appointments, preparedness for counselling, and more practical operational matters such as appointment scheduling and staff allocation to caseloads. This presentation will outline the findings to date, including how the data can be used meaningfully in terms of service planning, provision and management.
Kelly Nicholls is a paediatric / neonatal diagnostic audiologist in Queensland, and has worked for the Queensland Healthy Hearing Program since 2014. In this role, she is responsible for protocol development, quality and safety for the audiology component of the newborn hearing program. Prior to 2014, Kelly worked at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Brisbane, with considerable experience in neonatal and infant diagnostic audiology and paediatric cochlear implantation.