OBJECTIVE: Although existing studies of audiology first point of contact clinics which screen for retrocochlear pathology have demonstrated positive clinical outcomes, they have provided limited information regarding service impacts. Thus, this study aimed to evaluate both the clinical and health service outcomes of an audiology first point of contact (FPOC) clinic for adults referred to ENT services with suspected retrocochlear pathology.
DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study.
STUDY SAMPLE: All 1123 patients referred to the clinic over a 6-year period (2013-2019).
RESULTS: Most (73.7%) of the 1123 patients referred to the Retrocochlear Clinic were managed and discharged by the audiologist and did not require ENT appointment. Almost half (43.1%) were directly referred for MRI imaging, of which 4 (1.1%) were diagnosed with Vestibular Schwannoma. Waiting times for first appointments significantly (p < 0.001) reduced from a median of 748 days to 63.5 days over the 6-year period. Attendance rates also significantly (p < 0.001) improved over this time (from 52.2% to 90%). There were no adverse events reported. Of those discharged without attending an ENT appointment, 1.8% were rereferred to ENT within 12 months of discharge.
CONCLUSIONS: This audiology FPOC Retrocochlear Clinic was shown to be a safe and effective alternative service model.