In the past week, I also read a great editorial piece by one of audiology’s true gentlemen, John Greer Clark. You can read it at Threatened Autonomy. Dr. Greer-Clark makes some excellent points that audiologists must take heed to before it is too late! Federal governmental bodies like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Health and Human Services (HHS) and state entities such as licensure, insurance and consumer protection boards, departments and committees will act, in the form of regulations, if we fail to swallow our pride, change our ways, and consistently practice evidence based audiology.
We KNOW, based upon a preponderance of the evidence AND patient survey results that:
- Use of real-ear measurement use leads to improved patient performance and satisfaction,
- Telecoils continue to play a huge role, especially as more and more public and private facilities get looped, in patient performance and comfort in difficult listening situations,
- Aural rehabilitation significantly improves patient satisfaction, performance, and outcomes, both with and without amplification,
- Speech in noise testing provides a great deal of diagnostic and rehabilitative value to the patient and their outcomes, and
- Pre and post hearing aid handicap inventories, such as the Hearing Handicap Inventory for Adults or the Elderly (HHIA or HHIE), the Abbreviated Profile of Hearing Aid Benefit (APHAB), the COSI and the Characteristics of Amplification Tool (COAT) also, ultimately, lead to a better understanding of the patient’s needs and thus improved patient performance with amplification.
Yet, despite all we know, the numbers of audiologists who provide these services and options to the patient is startling small. The data speaks volumes.
We want patients to consider us as the experts in hearing care and hearing aids yet, time and time again, we do not all provide expert care. This is one of the primary contributing factors to the disruption many of us are (or should be) most fearful of: the rise of governmental involvement in the hearing aid space.
We can fix this though and it is not expensive or difficult. It actually, may increase productivity, decrease returns for credit, and increase revenue. It is also something that most of us already know how to do. All we need to do, every day, is practice to AUDIOLOGY to its highest, state defined scope of care and to the highest degree of evidence available. Period. That is the secret sauce and the magic bullet to protect and grow our profession. We just have to kick it old school and actually do what I hope we were taught in grad school, not the habits we have taken on since.
There are folks out there, like Dr. Greer-Clark, Cliff Olson, AuD, and Michael Valente, PhD, among many others, who have been begging, pleading and guilting all if us into doing the right thing for our patients and, ultimately, for our profession for literally decades. While some are beginning to heed the call (because Dr.Olson will not refer to you otherwise), still others are lagging behind. Remember the old adage, “we are only as strong as our weakest link”? This is where audiology is. Unless everyone takes up the mantle of evidence based care, we will all be vulnerable to the threats surrounding us. It is time, again, to band together for what is right! Who is with me?