What is the future of hearing health care? It is a challenging question, but also a timely one. As the world begins to emerge from its Covid-19 isolation, health — both physical and mental — will take on new importance. Hearing care must be included in the broader discussion and Ida Institute’s Future Hearing Journeys Report is the first step in this process. In my most recent article for Ida, I discuss the changes that are coming from the perspective of the person with hearing loss. An excerpt is below, but you can read the full article on Ida Institute.
Person-Centered Care Key to the Future of Hearing Healthcare
Based on extensive research, Ida’s Future Hearing Journeys report explores the future of hearing healthcare from every angle — that of the consumer, the purveyors of care (hearing care professionals or HCPs), educators, and the broader hearing care industry. While viewpoints differed among the groups, one conclusion was clear — person-centered care (PCC) will take center stage.
Through this report, we see an industry in transition. Competitive threats such as new over-the-counter (OTC) devices in the US are rising, while emerging delivery methods like telehealth are pushing industry care practices to evolve. Consumer preferences and demands are also changing, as individuals seek more control over their healthcare. The one constant is the desire for trust and partnership — the hallmarks of PCC.
People with hearing loss are taking greater charge of our overall health and this is translating into how we think about our hearing care too. We are faced with an array of technology options, but need help choosing among them. Telehealth is growing in popularity, but many of us still seek in-person care, at least part of the time. We are more comfortable doing research and managing our own health decisions, but we also crave the guidance of a knowledgeable partner – one who takes the time to educate us and to co-create our solutions. These dichotomies demand PCC.
Challenges to PCC Implementation Remain
Consumers demand it and many HCPs want to deliver it, but PCC faces several headwinds in its widespread implementation, a fact also acknowledged in the report.
- Aural rehabilitation and other counseling services are not always covered by insurance. Will consumers value these services enough to pay for them out-of-pocket? Will insurance schemes change in the face of market forces?
- Technology is constantly evolving. How will HCPs stay up to date on the latest innovations in hearing technology, especially those from non-traditional players?
- PCC requires changes to normal business practices and pricing models. Will HCPs resist unbundling fees and other required steps?
- A hybrid model of in-person and telehealth appointments will best serve the consumer. Will HCPs and manufacturers make the investments needed to fully utilize this growing platform
For more discussion on each of these points see the full article.