In Alberta, Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) assessment is available only in larger centers including Edmonton and Calgary. The service is tertiary in nature and is delivered by audiologists with ABR expertise. Families from all over northern Alberta travel to the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital (GRH) for ABR testing to assess hearing and identify hearing loss in children up to six months of age. Early detection and treatment of hearing loss leads to better clinical outcomes including improved speech and language development and improved educational opportunities. Families without access to local diagnostic pediatric ABR testing may miss the short window of opportunity for the most effective treatment.

In 2009, GRH Audiology collaborated with Alberta Health Sservices Clinical Telehealth and Northern Lights Regional Health Centre (NLRHC), Fort McMurray to offer diagnostic ABR testing using telehealth to improve access to this tertiary service in a remote community. Using video-conferencing and remote desktop access, GRH audiologists have the ability to remotely complete the diagnostic ABR test in real-time.

The telehealth ABR service delivery model has had a significant impact on the families offered this service in terms of improving accessibility to tertiary level services in their community. To date 54 families have received diagnostic ABR service at NLRHC in Fort McMurray and this would be a cost savings in travel for these families of about $54,000. Accessibility has been improved for 100% of all infants referred for ABR to this service as they are able to choose to have their testing completed at NLRHC. In addition, travel time and lost productivity has been reduced.

This service uses evidence-based practice guidelines with measurable objectives which were developed as part of this project. Outcome measures are being documented and evaluated for sustainability. In addition, roles and responsibilities have been outlined and training and mentoring for all roles in the delivery of this service have been standardized.

Families in Fort McMurray are now able to access this service without the inconveniences of travelling long distances with an infant. The audiologists accurately assess and confidently discuss the test results with the infant’s family using telehealth.

← Back to Search Results

Leading Practices are submitted by health organizations from around the world. The contents of the Leading Practices library do not reflect opinions or views of HSO or its affiliates. If you have questions, concerns or suggestions please email us at