Hearing Health and Technology Matters (HHTM), an online resource for hearing-related topics, has released the results of its “Audiologist OTC Hearing Aid Survey,” HHTM announced.
The online survey was conducted between August 1 and August 8, 2017, reportedly for the purpose of exploring the views of audiologists on the subject of over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids.  A total of 566 US-based audiologists completed the survey.
infographic_survey

Audiologist Opinion on OTC Hearing Aids

Highlights of the survey results included:

  • 65% of audiologists surveyed believe OTC hearing aids will have either a “negative” or “very negative” impact on audiology’s future.
  • Consumer electronics companies like Apple, Samsung, and others, were seen by respondents (61%) as being the greatest beneficiaries of the OTC hearing aid legislation that recently passed in the House and Senate.
  • 52% of audiologists surveyed felt that OTC hearing aids would likely hurt their clinic, compared with 9% that said OTC hearing aids would help their clinic.

Comments received from survey respondents, totaling more than 95, were predominantly in opposition to the creation of OTC hearing aids:
“This is more about greed and consumer electronics companies wanting to get a piece of the action in something they know nothing about. This will create an even greater negative impact on hearing aids and has nothing to do with helping people in need. The cost excuse is bogus since hearing aids are readily available at a variety of price points.”
“Manufacturers can do a better job by lowering their costs as well. This shouldn’t be put solely on the audiologists. We are the professionals and taking the professionalism away makes the products look cheap all around. People do not understand the difference at all.”
“My primary concern with OTC devices is the potential for missed medical diagnosis including acoustic neuroma. I had a patient who used an OTC device for a bit, then ended up on my doorstep where he was identified with a large acoustic neuroma requiring skull-based surgery. Post-surgery, [he was] successfully fit with a bi-Cros device. He joked when he came in to see me to ‘just get a hearing aid’ he got way more than he bargained for. He is thankful he came in.”
However, not all comments were negative; there were many neutral and positive responses to the creation of an OTC hearing aid market as well:
“If the dispensing offices offer the OTC hearing aids as part of their services, I think it will have a positive impact. At least make options for the hearing impaired more visible.”
“I think that this is a very good opportunity, combined with the increased knowledge about the effects of untreated hearing loss, for audiologists to become the most knowledgeable professionals about OTC hearing aids, and to encourage patients to try them earlier than traditional hearing aids would normally be used. We have a great opportunity to expand access and decrease cost, and we should help our patients with hearing loss to understand the advantages and limitations of OTC hearing aids as one of many possible treatments to consider.”
“I plan on offering OTC aids in my office so patients have that option as well.”

OTC Survey Results

A shareable infographic highlighting results of the survey has been made available for anyone to share on social media and can be downloaded here.
A detailed PDF report of the survey results are now available for download.
Source: HHTM