What Do Audiologists Think of OTC Hearing Aids
The FDA’s new rules for OTC hearing aids, announced on August 16, promise sweeping changes for hearing healthcare, creating a new class of more affordable and accessible hearing aids. Hearing aids within this category can be sold online and in stores directly to consumers who have perceived mild to moderate hearing loss without a medical exam or a fitting by a licensed provider.
As a Doctor of Audiology myself, I was curious to see what my colleagues thought of OTC hearing aids as they become widely available. What are the primary risks to consumers? And, do audiologist plan to support the hearing health of those who purchase OTC hearing aids? About a week after the FDA announcement, I ran a quick survey to better understand the primary objections held by audiologists.
Here is a list of the objections we asked about, ranked from strongest to weakest. A rating close to 5 indicates that most people selected "Strongly agree" while a rating close to 3 indicates more people selected "Neither agree or disagree" or that there was more polarization on the Likert scale.
Selling and servicing OTC hearing aids
Based on the results, audiologists seem fairly open to selling and servicing OTC hearing aids with 26% stating that they plan to sell OTC hearing aids in their clinics or on their websites. And 55% indicated that they plan to support patients with OTC hearing aids purchased elsewhere.
Best practice care
We asked respondents how strongly they agreed with this statement: "Best practice audiological care is more important now that consumers can purchase OTC devices". To my surprise, this was the single most strongly agreed upon statement in the entire survey, with a rating of 4.54.
And a whopping 87% of respondents told us that they "employ best practices or plan to improve [their] standard of care". I'm personally super excited to see audiology live up to its potential, and see this as one very strong positive thing to come out of OTC for our profession, and for the consumer.
The full results
As you will see from the full results, the majority of responses came from audiologists working in independent private practice and in ENT practices. We plan to do a more thorough analysis of the results soon, with the help of a statistician, and will share that in a follow up email. Rest assured, your email will not be shared with anyone.
About the participants
We received 730 responses in total, with the vast majority coming from audiologists within the United States. Participants were recruited from two audiology-related Facebook groups, my personal LinkedIn connections, and HearingTracker's pro newsletter list. All data was collected between August 19-23, 2022