What influenced your decision to offer ear and hearing healthcare at Bell Pharmacy?

We had been asked over a period of years about ear syringing as our local surgery had stopped offering this service. Having had a history of having my own ears syringed due to wax build-up, I knew how isolating and downright annoying earwax can be. I was looking into training courses and equipment costs with a view to offering microsuction in our pharmacy before the pandemic intervened. I put my plans on hold because face to face training and services were all paused and we were so busy keeping up with the demand for healthcare whilst lockdowns and restrictions were in place.

I received a promotional email introducing the Tympa System and after reading the email and investigating the website, I was satisfied that Tympa would meet my needs and arranged to talk to the company.

What first interested you in the Tympa System?

There were 2 key aspects for me in making contact.

The system makes use of up-to-date video technology, so for the first time for most patients, they can see what I see in their ears (if they want). I could also share the images with the prescribers at our local surgery if referral was required.
The training and backup via the ‘Remote Review’ from experienced audiologists and ENT consultants would give me the confidence to safely deliver this service.
What has been your favourite thing about using the Tympa System?

My favourite things about using the Tympa System is the ease of use, the instant playback facility to help explain to patients what is happening inside their ears and the ease of referral and quick response if this is required.

How much demand has there been for the service?

Demand for this service is huge. We are always fully booked 2 weeks in advance. I could stop doing anything in my dispensary and only see patients for microsuction such is the level of demand.

Do you have any standout patient story where you feel you really made a difference?

The most satisfying patient story we have seen is a young patient who has had recurrent ear infections, but they always seem to be in remission by the time she gets to see the ENT consultant. We removed wax initially and then she returned from university for a follow up appointment. More material was removed on the second visit revealing an active infection with complications. We referred her to the local GP surgery via the Tympa Panel which sent an email with a video link direct to the GP. On receipt of the response from the ENT consultant at Tympa we escalated the referral with the review recommendations. The patient was seen promptly by the NHS ENT team locally. It was great to be able to offer the service at exactly the right time for this patient.

Have you used the Remote Review feature?

We used the ‘Remote Review’ feature more in the early days than we do now. The main reason for this is that we are more confident and experienced with what we are seeing and need a second opinion less frequently. The fact that it is there gives me the confidence that we will do the best we can for every patient no matter what we come across.

What methods have worked well when it comes to getting the word out about your new Tympa service?

We operate in a small town where word of mouth is key to getting the message out. We have shared the details of our service at Bell Pharmacy with the local surgery and have demonstrated the system to several of the surgery staff who are delighted to be able to offer something to the patients rather than just tell them “We don’t remove earwax anymore”. Most of our enquiries come from patients who have been examined in the local surgery although we have also seen several patients who have previously had to travel some distance to have microsuction – they are delighted to access it locally.

We have used the Tympa posters in our windows to gather passing trade and we have a video display screen which shows the Tympa videos and animations. I also took the opportunity to promote the service at the patient group AGM this year.

How has your journey with Tympa been so far?

When I initially contacted TympaHealth, I looked at the cost of training 2 members of staff and the ongoing costs of the system. I was fairly confident that it would not be a loss-leader, but I have been astounded by how much of an income generator it is. We have priced the service at what I consider to be a fair cost for the work involved and in comparison, to our local competitors and so our monthly subscription is always covered by the fees for first day’s appointments every month.

What are your plans for the future?

For the future, we will continue to build the service, get more staff members trained to deliver microsuction wax removal, and find ways to offer even more appointments at Bell Pharmacy. If the chance arose to create another treatment room, I feel sure we could fill appointments all day every day.

Any advice for other pharmacies starting out on their Tympa journey?

My advice for anyone thinking about starting the service is…. DO IT. I have no regrets and the only thing I would do differently is start sooner.

Find out how you can expand your services to deliver ear and hearing healthcare in your community pharmacy