In the Netherlands, an individual who has some concern about their hearing ability can first express this concern to their General Practitioner (GP) or can go directly to the hearing aid dispenser.
The GP or the hearing aid dispenser will conduct the triage, which will determine whether the patient should visit an ENT-physician, or go directly to either an audiological centre, hearing aid dispenser, or ENT-physician - where a full hearing assessment will be conducted. If the patient visits the hearing aid dispenser directly, the hearing aid dispenser will check for certain criteria which indicate whether the patient should be seen by an audiological centre or ENT-physician. The patient is free to go to the hearing aid dispenser or the audiological centre.
Roughly there are two routes to be distinguished:
In both cases, the patient is usually asked to return within a specified period of time to be fitted with a hearing device. Once the device has been fitted, the patient is given a period of time in which the device is used at home (usually for a period of 6 weeks). After this trial period, re-assessment takes place. Depending on the result of the re-assessment, the patient may then either be discharged, have their current aid adjusted, or be fitted with an entirely new device. This decision then determines whether the patient must re-enter the pathway at the “trial-period” stage, or whether they are temporarily discharged.
The rehabilitation pathway of the Netherlands is illustrated in the figure below.