Hearing Health and Technology -- Workshop, Project No. P171200
Creating a class of over-the-counter OTC hearing aids would be harmful to the public, both in a physical and in a monetary sense. The false information in support of OTC hearing aids that has been circulating in the news recently is not based in science. False conclusions have been drawn from a single, flawed study (http://www.audiology-worldnews.com/market2/2068-important-us-study-sheds...). Other ideas that are circulating are based on perceptions, not fact. Some of the issues that need to be studied and addressed are: 1) The average cost of hearing aids has been misrepresented. 2) In order for hearing aids to be dispensed properly, using individual treatment plans for each patient, the dispenser or audiologist needs to have an office, utilities, computers, specialized equipment and supplies. This all factors into the cost of hearing aids. 3) Hearing healthcare professionals add value to the hearing aid process (both by adding a safety net for patients and by providing a better acceptance rate for hearing aids). 4) The auditory system is a complex system that needs to be treated on an individual basis. 5) Comparisons between hearing aids and other electronic devices have been over-simplified. 6) Comparisons between hearing aids and glasses have been over-simplified. 7) Without seeing a hearing healthcare professional, patients will be at risk for misdiagnosing a host of auditory issues. 8) What will prevent a parent from treating his/her child with OTC hearing aids? 9) If a class of OTC hearing aids is created, people will be wasting their money on products that are not going to work well for them because the products won't physically fit well, and many of the products will not treat each person's specific hearing issues. This is just the beginning of a long list of issues with creating a class of OTC hearing aids. These issues need to be studied in-depth in a scientific manner before proceeding any further with a change in regulations.