As an audiologist who used to dispense hearing instruments, I often wonder how I would logistically react to the disruption currently taking place in the hearing industry. If I were still in clinical practice, would I offer PSAPs and/or OTC hearing instruments as an option to some of my patients? Out of my own curiosity, a short survey was created to gather responses from audiologists currently dispensing hearing instruments to adults. There were a total of nine questions; eight multiple choice with the last question offering participants the option to provide feedback.
The survey was posted on Facebook (FB). Specifically, it appeared on my professional FB account (private) where my friends are mainly audiologists or hearing industry colleagues. It was also posted on four closed group FB Pages with advertised memberships comprised either solely or primarily of audiologists. In less than 24 hours, 331 responses were collected.
Before anyone asks the University of Cincinnati to take my PhD back, I am well aware of the survey’s informal nature and familiar with all the inherent threats to its internal and external validity. For whatever its worth, here are the results of this informal survey.
SNAPSHOT OF SURVEY PARTICIPANTS
A total of 331 individuals responded to the survey with all 331 complete. The terminal degree of most respondents (85.28%) was the AuD with the majority employed in one of the following four primary work settings:
- Private Practice/owner or partner (29.14%),
- ENT Practice (21.78%),
- Hospital/Medical Center (15.03%),
- Private Practice/employee (14.11%).
As indicated in the bar graph below, about half (44.47%) reported 1 to 10 years dispensing experience; the other half (55.21%) reported 11 to 25+ years experience. The majority were involved in offering traditional ALDs to their patient base (amplified telephone, TV listening device, PockeTalker, etc.) either directly (70.86%) or via referral to an ALD source (26.69%).
WHAT PARTICIPANTS SAID ABOUT PSAPS
As illustrated in the pie chart below, only a small percentage of respondents (7.36%) currently offer PSAPs in their primary work setting. While the majority (87.73%) did not offer PSAPs, of those that answered “NO”, about half indicated that their primary work setting is considering offering this kind of technology.
Survey participants were also asked the following question:
“If it were up to you and you only, assuming acceptable quality and appropriate gain for mild to moderate hearing loss, would your current primary work setting offer PSAPs to patients meeting necessary hearing loss criteria who may not be ready for hearing aids?”
The pie chart below shows survey results to that particular question. As indicated by the two green areas, 56.5% answered YES. Of those that responded YES, about a third indicated “definitely” whereas the remaining two-thirds indicated probably. Approximately one-quarter of the participants (23.87%) answered “NO, probably not” while 6.34% answered “NO, absolutely not”. The remaining 13.29% answered “I don’t know”.
When participants were asked the very same question about OTC hearing aids, the results were essentially the same (see pie chart below).
Assuming the Senate passes the pending OTC Hearing Aid bill this year, about 50% of the participants answered that they DO anticipate changes in their primary work setting’s business practices as a direct result of the legislation. A little more than one-third indicated that they DO NOT anticipate much change with the remaining 10-11% not sure. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out in the next few years. Thank you to those who participated in the informal survey and I look forward to continued discussion.