On April 27, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) will hold a meeting and open session on “Accessible and Affordable Hearing Health Care for Adults” at the Keck Center of the National Academies in Washington, DC at 10:30 AM Eastern. The topics to be covered in this meeting include access, health services, coverage, and select populations and health disparities.
As described on IOM’s activity information page for the April 27 meeting, it is categorized as a “Consensus Study,” which provides background on the importance of hearing to individual and societal health including issues such as isolation, social connectivity, well-being, and economic productivity. It will examine federal regulations for non-surgical hearing aid dispensing by asking if current regulations provide a clinically meaningful benefit to adults with hearing loss and what the required federal regulatory paradigm should be. The study will also address the affordability of non-surgical devices and services. It will look at how affordability can be improved, how current approaches can be used or modified to increase access, how new and innovative approaches (such as telehealth, mobile health, and team-based care) can be used to increase access and affordability, and will discuss challenges for select populations such as older adults and transitioning young adults. The committee will provide short- and long-term recommendations for solutions to these questions.
The committee chair is Dan G. Blazer, MD, MPH, PhD, and the primary IOM study directors involved in this Consensus Study are Catharyn T. Liverman, MLS; and Sarah Domnitz.
The IOM-hosted April 2015 meeting follows up on a January 13-14, 2015 2-day workshop the IOM co-sponsored with the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academies on “Hearing Loss and Healthy Aging” at the Keck Center, as reported in a February 4, 2015 article in Hearing Review. As mentioned by Dr Frank Lin during his keynote presentation at the November 2015 ADA Convention in Las Vegas, the IOM workshop is extremely important because it provides a top-down governmental response to the issue of affordability and accessibility of hearing aids, which he predicts may affect change much faster than a clinician-to-government bottom-up approach.