The Hearing Industries Association (HIA), Washington, DC, held its 2016 Annual Meeting March 8-10, following a theme titled “The Accessibility Challenge” to reflect the current focus on the current hearing aid industry. HIA members and guests heard from an array of industry thought leaders.
At the meeting, HIA reelected four members to the Board of Directors. Scott Davis, Sivantos; Kevin Kouba, Spectrum Brands Inc; Kim Lody, GN Hearing Care Corp; and Brandon Sawalich, Starkey Hearing Technologies; were re-elected to new two year terms. They rejoin Jeffrey Geigel, Widex USA Inc; Peer Lauritsen, Oticon, Inc; Jeff Newnham, Phonak LLC; Robert Tong, ON Semiconductor; and Gordon Walker, Knowles Electronics Inc, who continue on the Board with terms that extend through 2016.
The HIA Executive Committee continues in the second year of its term with Davis as HIA Chair, Lauritsen as Vice Chair, Tong as Secretary/Treasurer, and Carole Rogin as President. Jeff Newnham was appointed to a seat on the HIA Executive Committee for the 2016 year. Andrew Bopp continues as the organization’s Executive Director.
The meeting program featured speakers who reviewed topics including the FDA’s proposed clarification of its PSAP Guidance Document, the Institute of Medicine’s workshop on hearing loss, Hearing Aid Compatibility developments, and marketing topics that included BHI’s efforts to inform the public about the importance of hearing health. In addition, political commentator, Larry Sabato, PhD, director, University of Virginia, Center for Politics, returned to the HIA Annual Meeting to offer his “Sabato’s Crystal Ball” predictions for the upcoming presidential election.
As part of the program, James Battey, Jr, MD, PhD, director, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), discussed hearing research efforts at the Institute. For 2015, the Institute allocated $10.8 million for hearing aid research, along with $6.7 million for affordable and accessible hearing health care initiatives. Dr Battey’s presentation can be found on HIA’s website in the Members Only Section.
The meeting also featured a presentation by Sarah Domnitz, PhD, co-director, Study on Accessible and Affordable Hearing Health Care for Adults, Institute of Medicine (IOM). Dr Domnitz reviewed IOM’s research program and how recommendations are developed and formalized by IOM Consensus Panels. The Consensus Study Committee hopes to disseminate its report recommendation in June 2016. Dr Domnitz’ presentation can be found on HIA’s website in the Members Only Section.
Developments related to the Hearing Aid Compatibility (HAC) of cellular handsets were reviewed by Laura Stefani, Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth, HIA’s counsel for FCC issues. Among other things, Stefani reported that HIA is working with HLAA to sample a variety of cellular devices to identify technical issues that might account for the large number of people with hearing loss who report continuing HAC problems.
Soren Hougaard, Secretary General, European Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association (EHIMA), gave a presentation about international hearing aid market trends. In his presentation, Hougaard revealed the results of multiple studies showing that less professional involvement in the hearing aid buying process, in an unregulated market, lead to worse hearing aid adoption and satisfaction rates compared to the US.
Finally, Fabia D’Arienzo, Better Hearing Institute (BHI) Communications Consultant, and Alina Urdaneta, Sivantos, BHI’s Market Development Committee Chair, reviewed progress made by BHI in launching its new consumer-focused website on hearing health along with public relations efforts to inform the general public about the importance of addressing hearing loss.
HIA, headquartered in Washington, DC, is the national trade association of manufacturers of hearing aids, implantable hearing devices, assistive listening devices, component parts and power sources for amplification devices.