Quarterly reports generated from the database and practice profile letters are sent to all birthing hospitals and public health centers on an ongoing basis. The reports detail how many infants were screened, how many passed their screening, how many had a refer and how many were missed. Refer is the common clinical term to indicate failure to pass a newborn hearing screening and this terminology is used by the State EHDI Program. The reports also indicate the refer rate for each hospital and the EHDI Program manager contacts hospitals with a high refer rate. These reports will also be utilized as a springboard to develop quality improvement models as proposed in this grant. In the past six months, the State’s audiologists were trained on the database and are beginning to enter data. This is essential for tracking the timeliness of diagnostic follow-up for infants who did not pass their newborn screen. In the next phase, a process will be established for entry of data by the State Early Intervention/Infant Learning Program. Data integrity requires ongoing attention and will be addressed through advanced training of birth screeners and audiologists. In addition to practice profile letters and data teleconferences, the model for improvement involving small tests of change, developed by the National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality (NICHQ), will be implemented to test data integrity and reduce loss to follow-up.
The State EHDI Program promotes early hearing screening, detection and intervention through ongoing public awareness including brochures, manuals, an educational video, and television and radio public service announcements. The video, “Sounds & Silence”, was produced and distributed to rural health care providers in remote communities to increase their knowledge of early hearing detection and intervention for infants/children with hearing loss and monitoring infants/children with high risk factors for progressive hearing loss. The State continues to receive requests for the video from other states and countries facing similar rural health care challenges, such as Canada.
To outreach other ethnically diverse populations in Alaska and ensure their inclusion in the EHDI Program, the State EHDI brochure on newborn hearing screening and a follow-up brochure on “next step” for infants who failed their initial screening, were printed in five languages in addition to English. These brochures are available in Spanish, Hmong, Tagalog, Russian, and Korean. The brochures are widely distributed throughout the state at birthing