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I humbly write this message to you with it being my first as the President of our great Society. I’m honored to serve this wonderful organization and help it continue to thrive. We are coming off another successful Annual Convention and it’s surprising to think that the year is almost halfway over. There’s a lot going on in our industry right now. To have, and be a member of, a Society as strong as we have is more important than ever.
Through my years in our industry, I’ve certainly seen a lot of changes. Right now, or at least in the very near future, we may see the biggest change yet with the introduction of Over-the Counter (OTC) hearing aids. I say we may because no one really knows what to expect. OTC could change the landscape, or it could be a small speed bump for us all. I tend to think it will be the latter. In one form or another, OTC, PSAP’s, or an amplifier one can buy in a magazine have been around for a long time. It seems we have been surviving and thriving for some time all the while.
At the end of the day, a hearing aid truly needs to be fit professionally. The only way is with a comprehensive evaluation, and consistent service during and after the fitting. I think our friends at Bose are learning that. Recently, they announced their exit from their OTC hearing aid venture laying off about 2000 employees. It seems they found out what we do isn’t so easy after all. Bose was one of the “major hitters” trying to infiltrate our industry. It is very interesting and telling that they are already out. I don’t have to tell you all that a self-assessment followed by self-adjustments done on a smartphone do not compare with the testing and fitting practices that most of us administer in our daily routine. All you have to do is be better … be the best. Take care of your patients. Do whatever you can to help them. If you do that success is inevitable. We will win by educating the patient on what is right for them, not by what might be the cheapest option. The true experts will prevail.
I believe a larger threat to our industry and, therefore, our livelihood is the continued and growing existence of Third-Party Administrators (TPA’s) and Managed Care. With a TPA, an insurance company acts like the “middleman” between you and your patient. In many cases, the insurance company makes a profit, the person fitting the hearing aid is paid a small fee, and the patient is left with less-than-ideal options for technology and service. If the majority of a practice is reliant on TPA’s and Managed Care, the insurance company is ultimately dictating that practice. Long term, I ask, “Are you or are they in charge of your business?” When considering becoming a provider for any of these, I challenge you all to ask yourself what is best for your practice and best for your patient.
No matter what you do or what you think, stay with us. The Missouri Hearing Society (MHS), partnered with the International Hearing Society (IHS), will always be here to support in any way we can. IHS championing the state societies is truly our one and only voice and legal proponent when dealing with affairs that run all the way up to the White House. We will continue to provide information on the ever-changing landscape. As our Society grows and works alongside other societies in the country, we really do have strength in numbers. So, stay with us and bring a friend. Let us know how we can help.
Brad Jackson, BC HIS
2022-2024 MHS President
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