Development and Implementation of a Low-Cost Tracking System after Newborn Hearing Screening in Upper Austria: Lessons Learned from the Perspective of an Early Intervention Provider
Sprache des Titels:
More than one decade after the introduction of newborn hearing screening in Upper Austria, most children were still older than 6 months at enrolment in early intervention. In this study, under the guidance of health authorities, a revised screening and tracking protocol was developed by a network of early intervention providers and representatives of ENT, obstetrics, and pediatrics, including screening professionals and parents of children with hearing loss. Critical process indicators following internationally recommended benchmarks were defined and collected annually by the health authorities. Due to data protection issues, the data collection system was not personalized. Regular network meetings, case-oriented meetings, and screener training sessions were held. As a result, even without additional costs and within the legal constraints related to data protection in Austria, the proportion of children enrolled in early intervention before 6 months of age was significantly increased from 26% to 81% in two representative birth cohorts before and after the introduction of the new protocol, respectively. The coverage for bilateral screening increased from 91.4 to 97.6% of the total number of births.
Keywords: newborn hearing screening; tracking system; implementation study; pediatric hearing loss; enrolment in early intervention