How is the FDA’s recent ruling on Over-The-Counter (OTC) hearing aids impacting the audiology industry? Are OTC hearing aids a threat to hearing clinics – or an opportunity for more people with hearing loss to easily access the devices?
Many audiology practices say that not much has changed since the FDA ruling. Some within the audiology industry theorize that the customer base for OTC hearing aids aren’t necessarily people that would have visited audiologists for hearing screenings and hearing aid fittings. These consumers are likely just starting to notice a hearing loss and might not be ready to visit a hearing clinic for a full assessment. Instead, they’re buying OTC hearing aids as an easy, convenient way to manage their hearing loss.
Also, keep in mind that with more people aging – and needing hearing aids – the demand for hearing care is far greater than the audiology profession can manage. In other words, as more people require hearing care, the number of audiologists simply can’t keep up with the increasing patient demand.
While people are willing to proactively address their vision problems with glasses or contact lenses – statistics show that 75% of American adults use vision correction – hearing aid use still remains low. Will having an OTC option help ensure that more people who need hearing aids can (and will) access them?