Hearing Health and Technology -- Workshop, Project No. P171200
I am a Doctor of Audiology and also an individual with lifelong hearing loss. I have worn hearing aids since I was six years old. This personal experience of working with an Audiologist since childhood to care for the multitude of factors of my hearing needs helped me realize how much I could help patients using the latest in hearing technology and counseling tools. Hearing aids are expensive for a reason - the education and expertise of the person fitting the tools using state-of-the-art equipment to verify their appropriate fitting along with the cost of the technology itself is what a patient pays for when purchasing hearing devices. A large range of cost of devices already exists - from under $2000 for a pair up to $5000 for a pair. The "over-the-counter" option for hearing aids are not what I would consider to be a smart or practical solution for most patients. The problem with this is the lack of management of the actual health issues relating to the hearing loss a patient is experiencing. There are many underlying reasons for hearing loss, many of which should be evaluated to determine whether anything besides amplification is an appropriate solution. Also, a lot of psychological and interpersonal factors are at play in hearing care. These are all parts of audiology training that help us to diagnose and treat patients effectively. Patients who are served in audiology clinics report improved quality of life across the board. I have seen this from a personal and professional perspective. I believe my career has led me to improve the quality of my patients' and their families' lives. It would be a disservice to the efforts and capability of the current audiology community for the FTC to not take considerably more care before considering devaluing the effectiveness of audiology care including custom-fitted hearing aid solutions. If you would like to discuss my perspective further, please call or email me at [redacted] or [redacted]. Thank you for your consideration of my comments.