Over-the-counter hearing aid


The First Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids

The first over-the-counter hearing aids are slated to hit the market in the USA are here. There are already many devices available, such as Alango's BeHear and NuHearas IQBuds, that fit within the overall concept and larger brands are constantly going-to-market with new models of earbud looking products. Once the FDA regulation is in place in the US, expected in June 2022, we will begin to see an explosion of devices in this space.

As OTC becomes a global phenomenon, the speed of the internet will overcome local regulation. Regulation for OTC hearing aids in Europe and elsewhere may not occur for many years, but they will be available to purchase online by global customers. As OTC devices bring large chains and non-specialists into the mix, individual clinics and traditional audiologists will need to emphasize the expertise and personal service that sets them apart.

No matter how you or your business feel about OTC hearing aids, the fact is that there will be a market for these devices. There will be consumers with hearing loss searching for them and willing to buy them. Your choices are to completely ignore them, or to integrate the best of them into your offerings.

Why is it relevant for you? 

  1. Integrating the better quality OTC devices into your business will help to protect consumers and open your business up to a new market.
  2. Younger users gives you a potential longer customer life cycle. 
  3. Your involvement with OTC devices will ensure that your business is relevant to OTC consumers.
  4. Relevance to those consumers will help position your business as the first port of call as those clients’ needs change.

OTC hearing aids will change consumer perceptions. While PSAP's (personal sound amplification products) were unregulated and generally regarded as low quality, OTC hearing aids will be given the seal of approval by the FDA. This may lead to the perception that the devices are of higher quality, whether or not that is actually the case. That perception will grow as more innovative players introduce better devices. Many consumers will likely buy OTC solutions - not at least first-time-users. 

On the positive side, OTC devices can serve as a gateway to your business, allowing you to give consumers a clear understanding of the full range of services you offer and why they might matter to them. Having OTC as an entry point may even encourage the consumer to look at traditional hearing aids and service much earlier than they do now. OTC will also provide an entirely new revenue channel. It will increase the traffic through hearing health businesses and will contribute to a lower cost of customer acquisition.

European hearing care providers also need to consider how to handle the entry of mainstream manufacturers into this space. As OTC devices become prevalent, the big brands may move towards a self-fitting and self-fine-tuning offering.

Those functions too will need to be integrated into your business, along with any associated services that we may offer around these devices: real-ear measurement services and ongoing clean and checks, for example. By carefully assessing and working within these clients’ needs, you can build a lasting relationship with strong benefits for both parties.

With Auditdata Manage, you get an exclusive tool to run your business end-to-end and stay in contact with your clients. You can connect and analyze client data on your management and communication platforms both with digital marketing, in shop communication, hearing screeners.

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