Each year in January, I love to change the calendar to the new year with all the hope it brings for good things to come. Here are some things the audiologist in me is looking forward to this year.
1. Direct Ear Scanning and other new technology
Imagine no more ear impressions. It’s easy if you try. Yes, folks, you heard it here, unless you already heard it at the Starkey Expo last month like I did. A company called Lantos Technologies has an elegant little hand-held device (albeit expensive) that will scan the ear directly. Apparently, the resulting scan can be used to order hearing aids from any manufacturer. I did an interview with one of the developers a few years back. Word is that it will be introduced at AudiologyNOW! next month.
I asked my Magic 8-ball if we’ll see other new products at AudiologyNOW! and it answered, “Without a Doubt”. When I think back to all the amazing technology and features that were introduced over the years including feedback cancellation, wireless technology, RIC devices, invisible in-the-canal devices, and more, I can’t help but get excited. Not only because of the cool factor, but because of the patient benefits we see as a result. I’ll be one of the first in line in Boston waiting for the Expo to open. Hope to see you there!
2. Online Conferences
In May, we’re honored that Dr. Rich Tyler will be our Guest Editor for a Tinnitus Conference on AudiologyOnline. In June, we’re partnering with the Educational Audiology Association to bring you a conference entitled “Critical Issues in Educational Audiology”, and in September we’re thrilled that Dr. Ruth Bentler will be our Guest Editor for our first-ever conference on hearing aids! Each conference will feature live seminars Monday through Friday from 12 – 1pm Eastern with leading experts discussing the very latest research and clinically-relevant information to help improve your patient outcomes. Stay tuned to AudiologyOnline for more info.
3. Billing, Coding and Reimbursement Online Bootcamp
It seems that audiology billing, coding and reimbursement change on a daily basis, and much more change is expected this year, especially in regard to Medicare (groan!). The good news is that Dr. Kim Cavitt of Audiology Resources has created an intensive billing and coding bootcamp that has been a popular and must-have resource for audiology practices. And, this year, she’s bringing it online to AudiologyOnline! Look for more information on a comprehensive package of courses as well as monthly open chats (bring your questions!) with Dr. Cavitt on absolutely everything you need to know on billing and coding. Coming summer 2012!
4. Audiology Apps
I think Unitron was the first company to develop a validated hearing screening app, uHear, and it soon surpassed over a million downloads. That’s a million advertisements for audiologists and our services – thanks, Unitron! Starkey has a cool new app for listening training, Hear Coach, and many other useful apps in the iTunes store (search under “Starkey Laboratories”). AuDNet has the nowihear app, and most other hearing aid manufacturers have and are developing apps for our patients or for us to use with our patients. There’s even a sound level meter app, SPL Meter, developed by a post doctoral research fellow from Boys Town that I hear is pretty accurate. Most of these apps are FREE, so check them out and think about what applications they may have to your practice or outreach efforts.
Did you know that we have a whole new program to design, host and manage practice websites at AudiologyOnline called AudiologyDesign? Under Director Kelly O’Keefe, we have a new team of people creating custom websites to enhance your Internet presence through the latest in web solutions. For further info, call the AudiologyDesign team at 866.950.3571 and ask what they can do for you and your business.
6. Baby Boomers
The boomers are coming, the boomers are coming! Are you ready? As a profession, we need to get these boomers into our offices. One thing you must do in 2012 is get active in social media – Facebook and Twitter. It’s the best free way to reach baby boomers. I see a lot of practices out there that never update their page – ugh! They’re missing a great opportunity. Post photos of your office, of you, of your staff, and send updates at least a few times per week. It’s not rocket science, and if you build it, they will come. And let’s make a resolution to share ideas across the profession about recruiting and managing baby boomers—if we can effectively serve them we will grow our businesses and our profession like never before. Bring ‘em on!
7. Songs for Audiologists on Spotify
Before you think, “oh lame”, humor me on this one. My name is Carolyn Smaka and I’m addicted to Spotify. Subscribe to my Spotify playlist “Songs for Audiologists” – each song was carefully selected based on the content as well as the listenability. Besides the audiology theme, these are songs I actually like and enjoy listening to. But before you get crazy and start playing them in your waiting room, note that some of the songs may have “explicit” language. Don’t see your favorite audiology song in the list? Email me and I just might add it.
8. A.U.’s New Haircut
If you’re like me, you look forward to A.U.’s new haircut every year. She is one audiologist with great hair who can rock some great looks, including (below from left to right): 1) 2008 – short & sweet, 2) 2009 – “Banks” with bangs!, 3) 2010 – The Kate Pierson, and 4) 2011 – long & lovely!
Will 2012 be a healthy, happy and successful year? Magic 8-ball says, “Signs Point to Yes”. What are you most looking forward to this year? Please leave your comments below or send me a note anytime at email@example.com. Namaste!
Carolyn Smaka, Au.D., is Editor-in-Chief of AudiologyOnline. She currently serves on the Public Relations committee and Membership resume review sub-committee of the American Academy of Audiology. She’s also a music enthusiast, a yogini-wannabe and proud mom of the best kid in the world.