National prize for UCLH hearing assessment service

A pilot service at UCLH set up by clinicians and researchers that enables ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeons to assess hearing and ear problems remotely and shorten treatment pathways has won the ENT UK’s Best Young Consultant Led Research, Audit or Training prize.

The ‘tele-otology’ service, pioneered by UCLH ENT consultant Joseph Manjaly, was launched by ENT and audiology clinicians and researchers at RNENTED during the first pandemic lockdown. The service uses a new piece of technology – a modified smartphone –operated remotely by audiologists. The smartphone produces a remote high-definition video recording of patients’ ear drums, without the need for a hospital visit.

The video is sent together with an audiogram and information on symptoms to the ENT team to investigate and produce a treatment on UCLH’s electronic health record system.

The service has received UCLH clinical advisory group approval – which was set up to evaluate and endorse patient pathway changes in response to the pandemic – and is now in a funded second phase pilot. The work aligns with long-term NHS plans to employ virtual clinics and telemedicine to reduce the number of patient visits to hospital, enable specialist management of more patients each day, and speed up referrals.

Dr Manjaly said: “The prize reflects the efforts of a truly multidisciplinary collaboration between ENT consultants, registrars, audiology and senior management. The project has used innovative technologies to demonstrate efficiencies in patient pathways and reduction in hospital footfall.

“Particular credit goes to Nish Mehta, Jay Patel, Suneal Doal, Lily Dimitrov, Cillian Forde & Michael Burslem for their work in making the first phase a success, and the team has now grown to involve more UCLH team members and regional clinicians.”