Stethoscope Guide for Healthcare Workers with Hearing Loss

Eko provides a hearing loss support guide for clinicians with mild or severe hearing loss.
April 8, 2021

According to the World Health Organization, over 466 million people have disabling hearing loss, while an even more significant number suffer from mild hearing loss. Hearing loss is widespread across healthcare workers and can make it difficult to hear subtle heart sounds, but it should not prevent clinicians from providing the best care possible. There are various hearing aids and other tools that offer solutions and help clinicians confidently deliver the best possible care. 

Hearing Loss Statistics

The strongest predictor of hearing loss is age. As adults get older, hearing gets worse, and things like loud music and noise pollution exacerbate the issue. 

  • There are 48 million people in the United States with hearing loss (14% of the population).
  • Among those older than 60 years, over 25% are affected by disabling hearing loss.
  • Among adults aged 70 and older with hearing loss who could benefit from hearing aids, fewer than one in three (30 percent) have ever used them. 
  • Even fewer adults aged 20 to 69 (approximately 16 percent) who could benefit from wearing hearing aids have ever used them.


Types of Hearing Loss

There are many types of hearing loss, with a range of severity that affects people differently. Here is a general explanation of the degrees of hearing loss in decibels (dB).

Mild: a person can hear sounds above 26-40 dB and may not use hearing aids

Moderate: a person can hear sounds above 40-69 dB, which hearing aids can correct

Severe: a person can hear sounds above 70-94 dB and requires hearing aids or lip reading

Profound: a person cannot hear sound lower than 95 dB and is likely to use ASL or cochlear implant 

Frequencies of Hearing loss

High: Difficulty hearing frequencies between 2,000 and 8,000 Hz (Typically Age-Related)

Low: Difficulty hearing frequencies 1,000 Hz or lower (Meniere’s Disease)

Mid: Difficulty hearing frequencies between 500-2000 Hz (Cookie Bite)

Both: Users reporting both high and low-frequency losses

Using a Stethoscope with Hearing Loss

Hearing subtle heart sounds is difficult, especially for individuals with low-frequency hearing loss, since heart sounds are commonly produced at 1,000 Hz or lower. Low-frequency hearing loss makes it particularly difficult for clinicians to auscultate with a traditional stethoscope. 

Eko stethoscopes enable clinicians to hear low-frequency sounds in the most challenging environments with amplification, active noise cancellation, and cardiology-grade acoustics. Additionally, the features of the Eko App can help augment what a clinician is listening to for an extra level of support. The 3M™ Littmann® CORE Digital Stethoscope, Eko CORE Digital Attachment, and Eko DUO ECG + Digital Stethoscope are great tools for individuals with hearing loss.

We want you to use Eko in your practice with confidence, so every Eko stethoscope is backed by a 100% refundable, 30-day workflow trial. Shop Now →


Hearing Loss Solutions with Eko

1. Amplified stethoscopes

Eko stethoscopes offer up to 60x amplification, active noise cancellation, and multiple volume settings to help clinicians hear sounds loud and clear in challenging environments. Amplified stethoscopes are most common for individuals with mild hearing loss who do not use hearing aids.

Some clinicians with hearing aids prefer amplified stethoscopes combined with hearing aids. You can either remove hearing aids to insert the stethoscope earpieces or, if comfortable, insert stethoscope earpieces with hearing aids still in place. The level of performance and comfort may vary depending on the type of hearing loss or hearing aid model.

2. Amplification + visualization

By pairing a stethoscope with the Eko App, clinicians can visualize what they hear and make recordings for playback or a quick referral bringing confidence and reinforcement. 

  • The Eko App shows heart sounds waveforms (PCG) in real-time 
  •  Visual cues make it possible to see heart abnormalities simultaneously while listening to them
  • The visual waveform is so detailed that some clinicians prefer to assess patients with only visual queues. 
  • The AMPHL gave instructions on how to use visualization in clinical settings.

Additionally, Eko AI analysis flags heart murmurs and AFib (with the Eko DUO) to help find early signs of heart disease. Eko’s real-time AI analysis acts as a second set of ears and helps providers detect abnormalities at the point of care.

3. Connect to hearing aids via Bluetooth

Using the Eko App, clinicians can connect Eko stethoscopes with Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids and cochlear implants. Sounds will stream directly to hearing aids wirelessly, making a smooth workflow that maximizes amplification.

All Eko stethoscopes provide wireless functionality utilizing Bluetooth technology.

How to connect to Bluetooth devices:

  • Connect your Bluetooth hearing aids to your phone
  • Power on your Eko CORE or DUO and pair it to your phone via the Eko App
  • In the Eko App, find the option to toggle ‘Play from Headphone’ ON. You should now be able to hear sounds through your hearing aids
  • Turn on the feature ‘Volume Boost’ in the Eko App settings to further amplify sounds as needed.
  • Once paired, you can lock your phone and place it in a pocket or safe location

For a demonstration video, click here

For further questions, click visit our Support Portal.As an alternate workflow, some clinicians prefer to use wired over-the-ear headphones over their hearing aids for maximum amplification and reduced background noise.

We want you to use Eko in your practice with confidence, so every Eko stethoscope is backed by a 100% refundable, 30-day workflow trial. Shop Now →


Hearing Aid Compatibility Research

We gathered data from our customers with hearing loss to understand how our technology supports them in real-world environments. Participants filled out a survey about their experience, and these are the results of the research. 

Research Overview & Disclaimers

We ask users to rate the sound clarity of heart and lung sounds in the hearing aid compatibility survey, Below is the rating scale we used:

Rating Score Key (1-5):

1 - Cannot hear any sounds
2 - Can hear but audio quality is poor (static, cutting in and out, noisy)
3 - Audio quality is sufficient for everyday practice (Passing Score)
4 - Good audio quality
5 - Great audio quality

Eko recommends working with your audiologists to fine-tune your hearing aids so it does a satisfactory job picking up low frequency heart and lung sounds. Adjustments needed will differ for each individual.

Survey Results

Table 1. Success rates of the top 8 most popular hearing aid brands we collected (75% of our sample size)

Brand Successful
Users
Total Users Connection to
Bluetooth
Phonak 52 78 Likely to work
Oticon 44 72 Likely to work
Resound 29 46 Likely to work
Starkey 13 26 May work
Widex 9 15 Likely to work
Costco (Kirkland) 12 16 Most likely to work
Signia* 6 11 May work
Siemens* 6 9 Likely to work
*Brands have merged.


Other brands (small sample size) with a likely chance to connect via Bluetooth also include: Unitron, Audicus, Cochlear and Philips.

Rating scores displayed in the table below are averages from the sample size (N) and are subjective to the user providing the scores. 

Table 2. Average sound quality rating scores by degree of hearing loss

Mild (N= 34) Moderate (N=202) Severe (N=81) Profound (N=18)
Heart 3.7 3.4 3.2 3.7
Lung 3.6 3.4 3.1 2.8


Table 3. Average rating scores by hearing and brands and frequency loss types

High (N= 243) Low (N=83) Both (N=81) Mid Range (N=22)
Heart      3.4 3.7 3.4 3.6
Lung      3.3 3.7 3.7 3.6


Work with an Audiologist

We understand that every clinician works under unique circumstances. There are different types of hearing loss, degrees of severity, and a wide variety of hearing aids. That said, Eko recommends consulting with an audiologist to find a solution that is best for you. The stethoscope is one piece of the larger puzzle, so we offer a no-risk 30-day money-back guarantee to allow clinicians to evaluate the Eko in their practice. 

For a custom solution, we recommend custom hearing aids or custom earpieces. 

Westone provides quality products and services that contribute to the hearing effectiveness of health care professionals. Contact Westone to learn more about custom earpieces for Eko stethoscopes.

Helpful resources

AMPHL is an association of deaf and hard-of-hearing medical professionals

Stethoscope Comparison Guide: https://www.amphl.org/comparison-table

Technical Considerations: https://www.amphl.org/technical-considerations

Visual Stethoscopes: https://www.amphl.org/visual-stethoscope


We want you to use Eko in your practice with confidence, so every Eko stethoscope is backed by a 100% refundable, 30-day workflow trial. Shop Now →