Hearing Health and Technology -- Workshop, Project No. P171200 #00109

Submission Number:
Julie Link, Au.D.
Initiative Name:
Hearing Health and Technology -- Workshop, Project No. P171200
First, I want to say thank you for providing me an opportunity to comment on this matter which is so important to my patients and myself. I am a young audiologist who sees every day the impact better hearing makes on the lives of the people I have the privilege of serving. I would like to direct my comments to the first question you have posed: 1. What information about hearing technology and related health care services is available to consumers who may be shopping for these goods and services? How useful do they find this information? I believe this is the right question to ask and a great place to start. While bringing down the cost of hearing healthcare and making hearing healthcare more accessible is very important to me, consumers need to understand why it is important to them. Consumers that come into my office are by and large are under-educated on the risks of untreated hearing loss (increased risks of falls, depression, anxiety, memory loss, and further hearing loss to name a few). In addition, due to many primary care physicians' either limited education on or lack of interest in the comorbidities of hearing loss, consumers do not understand how they are putting themselves at risk with excessive loud noise exposure, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, kidney disease, and ototoxic medications. My concern is that if OTC hearing aids are made available before a public campaign to educate consumers is launched, many consumers will fail with OTC hearing aids and continue to live their lives with untreated hearing loss. If a public campaign was launched and consumers and their family members were educated on risks of hearing loss, comorbidities, and expectations of treatments, then those consumers who are unsuccessful with OTC hearing aids due to a variety of factors (such as their own incorrect diagnosis of the severity of loss, lack of management of their comorbidities, need for aural rehabilitation, need for professional hearing aid assessment, and assistive listening devices, etc.) will be more motivated seek appropriate and timely treatment. Julie Link, Au.D. Doctor of Audiology