Finalist, The International Center of Hearing and Speech MEDINCUS, Poland, for its Model of Comprehensive ENT patient care
Clinic of the International Center for Hearing and Speech MEDINCUS in Kajetany (Poland) was established in 2011. It is a part of the international MEDINCUS network, which also includes also 22 highly specialized medical facilities of the Center for Hearing and Speech MEDINCUS (15 in Poland and 7 abroad), offering comprehensive services in otolaryngology, audiology, phoniatrics, rehabilitation, speech and hearing therapy, psychology, physiotherapy, and medical engineering.
What makes your project so special?
The MEDINCUS network provides holistic patient care, implementing a comprehensive care model. This includes full diagnostics, treatment, and rehabilitation of patients with ear, nose, throat, and larynx ailments, as well as balance disorders, facing issues such as deafness and profound hearing loss, speech and voice disorders, tinnitus, or dizziness. In order to provide top-notch services, the The International Center for Hearing and Speech MEDINCUS, along with the Center for Hearing and Speech MEDINCUS facilities, successfully utilize telemedical solutions due to their extensive structure. This includes teleconsultations, telediagnostics, telerehabilitation, and telefitting (remote cochlear implant fitting), which has been beneficial to implanted patients living not only in Poland but also abroad. Innovative solutions, providing access to an international team of top-tier specialists, groundbreaking treatment methods, and proprietary therapies ensure top-level medical care for patients from all over Poland and abroad. To date, about 30,000 patients have taken advantage of the telemedical solutions offered by the MEDINCUS network.
What outcomes do you want to achieve with your project?
From the inception of their operations, the International Center for Hearing and Speech MEDINCUS and the Center for Hearing and Speech MEDINCUS facilities have endeavored to provide professional care at every stage of the diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation process. Our primary focus has always been on providing top-quality assistance, improving living conditions, and ensuring the satisfaction of our patients and their loved ones.
Each year, the MEDINCUS network performs more than 2,500 surgeries and approximately 150,000 consultations and examinations. Over one million patients have benefited from various forms of aid so far, which signifies the immense trust that patients place in the MEDINCUS network and is a great source of pride for us.
We plan further expansion of the MEDINCUS network in Poland and globally, as well as the development of our telemedical services. As a multiple winner of prestigious awards and recipient of numerous accolades for implemented diagnostic and treatment innovations, our specialists intend to continue sharing their knowledge at international conferences, symposia, training sessions, as well as through media outlets with worldwide reach.
Depending on the type and degree of hearing loss, today’s medicine offers patients a number of different solutions to improve hearing. These include hearing aids and hearing implants (middle ear implant, bone conduction implant, cochlear implant, auditory brainstem implant). It should be noted that currently, the cochlear implant system is an internationally recognized method of treating hearing disorders in patients with severe and profound sensorineural hearing loss. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), more than 324,000 people worldwide have received cochlear implants since December 2012. The growing number of patients using a cochlear implant also means the need to provide effective rehabilitation assistance and an offer in the field of cochlear implant sound processor settings to a growing group of people.
In connection with the above, one of the aims of the Center of Hearing and Speech MEDINCUS was to solve the problem with the availability of services and access to them in the field of audiology, especially in underdeveloped regions. According to that, the implementation of the telemedical submodel of a comprehensive approach in ENT patients has been successfully implemented by the MEDINCUS. The main aim of the implantation is to provide high-quality services for patients from all over the world, especially for patients from small villages or poorer regions. Teleconsultations, telediagnosis, telerehabilitation, telefitting, and teleservice are five of the most important elements of successful and effective treatment in ENT patients. It is worth describing the process of the telemedical submodel of a comprehensive approach in ENT patients. A specialist from a telemedical center, using an Internet connection, connects via a videoconference with the center where medical services are provided. By ensuring visual and auditory contact, it is possible to communicate with the support staff, coordinate and verify the correctness of their activities, and which is more important, observe the patient. When speaking about telefitting, the measurements and programming of the sound processor are carried out by taking control of a remote computer by a clinical engineer using dedicated programs. The course of telefitting consultations is analogous to a traditional visit to the center. It is therefore a very good alternative to traditional visits to the centers, which were presented above. The results of the multicenter study show, on the one hand, that patients perceive the remote fitting as equivalent to the traditional (in-person) fitting. On the other hand, in comparative studies, it was found that the stimulation parameters obtained with both types of fitting are very similar, which also ensures that the optimal setting is obtained using the remote method.
To sum up, the implementation of the telemedical submodel of a comprehensive approach in ENT patients was a huge quantum jump in ENT treatment.
The initiative brought the expected results. The telemedical submodel of a comprehensive approach in ENT patients involves 30,000 patients from all over the world. For example, in the last three years (2020-2022), the services under the telemedical submbodel have been used by:
- 13 facilities in Poland – 17,320 patients
- 2 facilities in Kyrgyzstan (Osh, Bishkek) – 245 patients
- 3 facilities in Ukraine (Lutsk, Kyiv, Odessa) – 181 patients
- facility in Senegal (Dakar) – 14 patients
There is a clearly noticeable upward trend and growing interest in using teleservices by people from abroad, especially in Kyrgyzstan (Osh, Bishkek) and Kazakhstan (Shymkent). However, the activity of the facility in Kyiv requires a commentary. It was opened on September 27, 2021 and for only 3 months of its operation, as many as 4 patients benefited from telefitting.
Despite the outbreak of war in Ukraine in February 2022 and the arrangements resulting from the situation, the applicant continued to operate in 3 centers of the Center of Hearing and Speech MEDINCUS in Kyiv, Odessa, and Lutsk, without ceasing to implement the telemedical submodel. Nevertheless, the Center did not stop operating in this country: patients were still admitted to each of the 3 Ukrainian centers. Moreover, probably due to the migration of the population within the country, a lot of new patients from Ukraine used telecare in the centers in Odessa and Lutsk, also in Polish wards. Moreover, due to the political situation in Ukraine, the number of teleconsultations has increased.
Additionally, the Center of Hearing and Speech MEDINCUS successfully implemented the telemedical submodel of a comprehensive approach in ENT patients in Polish and foreign centers. For this purpose, support persons from each of the centers underwent appropriate training in the use of telemedical infrastructure, as well as technical norms of sound processor, and the physicians and clinical engineers – in addition to many years of experience in ENT – speaks a foreign language during the visit (e.g. English, Russian, French, Ukrainian), to avoid any communication problems with an employee from a remote facility, the patient or parent. If the specialist does not speak a foreign language, there is also a high-qualified interpreter. This also undoubtedly positively affects the patient’s comfort, as he actively participates in the visit, and all information is provided to him clearly and understandably using plain language.
As mentioned above a few conclusions may be drawn:
- The implemented solution – the telemedical submodel of a comprehensive approach in ENT patients – is a valuable solution for patients from all over the world.
- The comparison of the telefitting of the sound processor and the traditional ‘in-person’ fitting showed no clinical differences. Moreover, it could be stated that the comparison of telecare in ENT patients and traditional ‘in-person’ care showed no clinical differences.
- The medical costs of telecare, including telefitting, are similar to the costs of the standard fitting procedure.
- Further development of telecare will allow for the reduction of medical costs.
- The telemedical submodel of a comprehensive approach in ENT patients results in a considerable reduction of travel and accommodation costs and time for the patients.
A model of comprehensive patient care (diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation), with particular emphasis on the telemedical submodel of a comprehensive approach in ENT patients – will undoubtedly be continued by the Center of Hearing and Speech MEDINCUS in the next 3 years. It is also worth noting that despite the difficult political situation in Ukraine, the Center did not stop operating in this country and patients can still count on support in facilities located in Kyiv, Odessa, and Lutsk. At the same time, services are also offered in other countries, such as Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Senegal. Telecare offering in numerous locations, including 13 domestic and 7 foreign centers, has been very popular for years, from European and Asian countries to Senegal (Africa). In addition, the growing number of patients using a cochlear implant and as indicated by the World Health Organization, the number of people across the world with hearing loss is steadily growing and according to statistics, in 2025 over 900 million people may have different hearing problems.The demand for ENT services will be increasing, which even more motivates the Center of Hearing and Speech MEDINCUS to introduce innovative and modern solutions in the field of telemedicine – the telemedical submodel of a comprehensive approach in ENT patients as an alternative to the traditional model. In connection with all the above, if the Center opens further entities, telecare, including teleconsultations, telediagnosis, telerehabilitation, telefitting, and teleservice will undoubtedly be on the list of offered services.
Presentation of MEDINCUS international activities