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Remote Programming of Cochlear Implants: A Telecommunications Model

McElveen, John T. Jr.*; Blackburn, Erin L.*; Green, J. Douglas Jr.; McLear, Patrick W.; Thimsen, Donald J.§; Wilson, Blake S.

doi: 10.1097/MAO.0b013e3181d35d87
Cochlear Implants

Objective: Evaluate the effectiveness of remote programming for cochlear implants.

Study Design: Retrospective review of the cochlear implant performance for patients who had undergone mapping and programming of their cochlear implant via remote connection through the Internet.

Methods: Postoperative Hearing in Noise Test and Consonant/Nucleus/Consonant word scores for 7 patients who had undergone remote mapping and programming of their cochlear implant were compared with the mean scores of 7 patients who had been programmed by the same audiologist over a 12-month period. Times required for remote and direct programming were also compared. The quality of the Internet connection was assessed using standardized measures. Remote programming was performed via a virtual private network with a separate software program used for video and audio linkage.

Results: All 7 patients were programmed successfully via remote connectivity. No untoward patient experiences were encountered. No statistically significant differences could be found in comparing postoperative Hearing in Noise Test and Consonant/Nucleus/Consonant word scores for patients who had undergone remote programming versus a similar group of patients who had their cochlear implant programmed directly. Remote programming did not require a significantly longer programming time for the audiologist with these 7 patients.

Conclusion: Remote programming of a cochlear implant can be performed safely without any deterioration in the quality of the programming. This ability to remotely program cochlear implant patients gives the potential to extend cochlear implantation to underserved areas in the United States and elsewhere.

*Carolina Ear and Hearing Clinic, Raleigh, North Carolina; †Jacksonville Hearing and Balance Institute, Jacksonville, Florida; ‡Greenville Ear Nose & Throat Associates, Greenville, South Carolina; §DTS Software, Raleigh; and ∥Duke Hearing Center, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, U.S.A.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to John T. McElveen, Jr., M.D., Carolina Ear and Hearing Clinic, 3100 Duraleigh Road, Suite 300, Raleigh, NC 27612; E-mail:

© 2010 Otology & Neurotology, Inc.