Hearing Health and Technology -- Workshop, Project No. P171200
As a provider of hearing health care to patients, I strongly disagree that better hearing health care will be provided to the public at large through OTC hearing devices. In my three clinical offices, we provide health care service to the public each and every day. We do this through encouragement and educational counselling, hearing device selection, as well as helping to maintain hearing devices in good working order following a purchase. We see patients every 4-6 months depending on their individual needs to make sure that the patient's hearing is being taking care of in the best way possible. Without the level of support and care that we provide patients, we strongly believe that hearing health will suffer. For the patient's who don't regularly service their hearing aids, we find their clinical cost for repairs are much higher and their satisfaction is much lower. Removing the hearing healthcare provider from the treatment of hearing loss could be dangerous as well. We currently look for 8 FDA warning signs to determine if a patient should be seen by another healthcare provider for potential life threatening issues. A patient is not capable of determining this for themselves. As far a cost of hearing aids being a concern, I find this is a very small barrier for most individuals for several reasons. We offer a full range of pricing to meet every budgetary need, we have same as cash financing available, and for those who truly cannot afford the cost of care, my offices provide charity services through community programs as well as through a clinic funded program to care for our community. Often clients refuse help even when premium hearing aids are provided at no cost. Several research articles also indicate that in other countries where hearing aids are provided through social services for patients the adoption rate is no better than the adoption rate for hearing aids in this country. More counselling and education is needed, not less by taking the hearing healthcare provider out of the equation and allowing over the counter sales.