Are you looking for an upgrade to your telehealth setup? When I first started doing telehealth visits, I would only use the built-in microphone on my Ipad pro. However, after more visits, I realized the sound quality was average, and some people struggled to hear me.
I have personally tried multiple headsets, not just for telehealth but for everyday use. I have yet to find a great headset that allows me to get excellent sound quality. However, I have found some that work well enough for me to perform a telehealth visit.
Before I jump into some product recommendations, let’s look at some features of the headsets.
Some of the features we look for when it comes to a wireless Bluetooth headset include:
- The sound quality on receive and the patients’ side
- The “look” of the headset
- Background elimination or noise-canceling
- Headphone Fit and comfort
- The type of headset (earbuds, neck sitting banded headsets, over the ear, on-ear, and open-ear)
- Voice Assistant
- Water-resistant or waterproof
- Some newer models even offer Biometrics (heart rate monitor, etc.)
- Sound Amplification
I have not tried the open-eared headphones yet and will hopefully purchase a pair in the future for review. These usually wrap around your neck and sit near your ear canal using bone conduction to transmit sound. Aftershokz Titanium Bone Conduction Wireless Bluetooth Headphones are one of the brands I am looking into purchasing.
With this in mind, I have tried multiple headsets, earbuds, and hard-wired microphones. I ended up sticking with the wired headset/microphone that Apple sells.
Sometimes I will use the wireless headsets if I need to walk around. However, this is rarely a problem for me because I stay seated and chart during my visits. If I am using a wireless headset, I prefer something more discreet and low profile.
Problems encountered with wireless headsets.
- Losing connection
- Poor background noise cancelation
- Interference from your cell phone connection
- Low battery requires frequent charging
Wireless Headset Options for Telehealth Visits:
- Ipad AirPods: these small earbuds are discrete and relatively comfortable. They also work with all the apple devices making connectivity a breeze. The battery life is fair, but they charge quickly in-between uses. They are decent at not picking up background noise but not the best when the window is down in your car and you are trying to have a hands-free discussion.
- Powerbeats Pro
- Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones: These are too bulky for my taste, but some people like the comfort and noise cancelation. These headsets have five built-in microphones with advanced audio signal processing to help improve sound quality.
- Sony Earbud WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones are small earbud-style headset. I was not impressed with these earbuds and found the apple AirPods had better sound quality.
- Anker SoundBuds Slim Wireless Headphones are a cost-effective option for a wireless headset. However, for better microphone pickup, try letting the wire portion fall under your chin rather than behind your neck.
- The bose noise-canceling headsets: The latest headset – Bose QuietComfort 35 II Wireless Bluetooth Headphones, Noise-Cancelling, with Alexa Voice Control comes with noise rejecting dual-microphone system for clear sound and voice pickup. I enjoyed this headset for listening to music but wasn’t a fan for handsfree telehealth visits. Plus, they are bulky, and I wouldn’t say I liked the look when doing a telehealth visit.
Hard wired options:
- Webcams: These are the worst when it comes to background elimination. They seem to pick up every sound that may be around you, such as dogs barking or people talking. However, they are easy to use once you have it set up, and there is no need for anything on your ears or head.
- Jabra makes a great wired headset with a built-in boom mic. This microphone has a 3.5mm jack for connecting to your device. The one I used was the Jabra Evolve 40 professional Wired Headset. I liked the sound but didn’t like the look and feel of the headset.
- I frequently use the Apple brand EarPods with a lightning connector to my cell phone. The sound quality is good, and they are comfortable and easy to carry with me. Plus, it is low cost and works great with apple products.
- In a pinch, you could always borrow your kid’s gaming headsets. They are pretty good at filtering sound and provide fairly decent microphone quality.
Alternatives to wired and wireless headsets for telehealth visits
If the above recommendations do not fill your needs, why not try a wired microphone.
Cardioid Microphones (cardioid mic): These are desktop microphones that are well suited for telehealth visits. You can get ones that sit on your desk and will have high-quality recordings of your voice.
You will need a separate speaker to hear your patient talk. These types of microphones work best when using a desktop.
Many brands of desktop microphones include the Cardioid microphone option and have “Omni recording.” Omni isn’t really good for telehealth visits unless other people in the room need to be heard.
I used the “Yeti” brand microphone for PC. When speaking, the sound quality is very high, and it’s nice not to have to wear a headset.
This microphone helps avoid picking up sounds from the sides or behind the microphone, like in a noisy office setting. The microphone is excellent if you have children at home or animals making noise in the background.
- Blue Snowball
- Blue Yeti USB Microphone for PC & Mac
While Bluetooth wireless technology may be more convenient, we recommend sticking with a hard-wired microphone when doing a telehealth visit.
You do not have to spend a fortune to get excellent sound quality. There are multiple options on amazon and specialty sites that sell quality microphones.
I love wireless headsets for ease of use, but nothing beats a good wired headset when it comes to sound quality and noise cancellation.
Remember, I am not an IT professional. I am just speaking from experience in using headsets when doing telehealth visits with patients.