OTC Hearing Aids and the Hearing Healthcare Professional

Arguably one of the biggest events in 2017 for hearing healthcare professionals was the signing of the Food and Drug Administration Re authorization Act of 2017 this past August, which now allows for Over The Counter (OTC) hearing instruments to be sold.  This new legislation now requires the FDA to create an OTC category for personal amplification devices within the next three years, as well as find a way to regulate these devices (for more information on this act click HERE for The Hearing Reviews article of the bill).

Peter Kossek, Senior Product Manager for Fitting Solutions and Wendy Switalski, Senior Market Development Manager for Fitting Solutions at Otometrics were both recently interviewed along with other prominent industry fitting leaders by The Hearing Journal for their opinion on the matter. Read their portion below, or find the full article HERE.

“The movement from traditional amplification towards a consumer electronics model will result in a large expansion of hearing care clients. In addition to our current “clinical clients/patients,” OTCs invite people who prefer to be treated as a consumer. This group may have had either limited access or even resistance to a clinical environment. The “consumer client” will now have hearing care products marketed and designed to appeal to them. For this group, audiologists and dispensers can play a role, not only as a provider of clinical hearing care, but also as an expert reseller of a consumer product. This new business model requires careful consideration of managing consumer expectations, while at the same time controlling touch points and time management. 

This field will quickly fill with new entrants, including well-known audio brands. Staking a position and remaining visible to all prospects is crucial. Ideally, audiologists and dispensers will find marketing messages that support the newly broadened range of available products. New consumers and traditional prospects alike will likely be drawn to familiar brands. Careful selection of OTC products, with focus on rounding out traditional offerings, could be one way to capture interest while also promoting advanced clinical care and performance. 
From there, differentiation can focus on the individualized and customized care that is only available from a hearing care provider. Only hearing care professionals exhibit long-term commitment to success that goes beyond the immediate transaction of an OTC delivery.
In addition to the business model shift from traditional care provider to reseller, the hearing care community will need to meet the needs of consumers who have greater choice than ever before. This will require a blending of both health care and retail approaches – ensuring accessibility, choice, and convenience in addition to the expertise that already exists.
On the instrumentation front, hearing care providers need access to objective tools that facilitate meaningful comparisons between devices. Verification and validation tools are now more important than ever. This is not limited to highlighting the benefit of a specific fitting, but also for objective comparison between the wide array of options, many of which may look similar but perform entirely differently. Design and development of hearing care tools that provide validation, optimal workflow efficiency, and ease-of-use in a hearing care environment, that’s where our focus lies as an audiologic instrumentation provider.”

If you would like more information on verification and validation tools provided by Otometrics, check out www.audiologysystems.com/fitting


Like OTObiography? Hate it? Have a suggestion for something we should blog about? Want to tell me what your plans are for lunch? E-mail me directly at byoung@otometrics.com.

And as this will be the last blog post of 2017, have a safe and happy New Year!


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