Many professionals agree that audiology is at a turning point. Challenges presented by changing demographics, evolving technology, consolidation of medical care, industry vertical integration, changing healthcare regulations and increased government and public attention to hearing healthcare are poised to affect how audiology is viewed and practiced. Now, as these changes are taking place, is the time to create positive momentum toward securing audiology’s place as the leader of hearing and balance healthcare.
That was the goal of a group of audiologists from diverse backgrounds (The Future of Audiology Coalition) when they met recently.
A Vision for Audiology’s Future
During their two-day meeting, the group envisioned a desired future that holds the audiology profession will:
- Assume responsibility for the total management of hearing and balance health – not just hearing loss
- Independently assess, diagnose/evaluate and treat/manage hearing and balance problems, without external restrictions, using all available technologies and services
- Receive reimbursement for the entire scope of practice and services.
- Expand the populations we see to include those with auditory related comorbidities and those whom our expertise can improve their quality of life.
- Be recognized as the primary care providers of hearing care and play a pivotal role in balance care
- Attract the best and brightest to audiology and retain professionals who grow in skills and knowledge and respond to changes in healthcare and specifically the profession.
To achieve this desirable future, the group felt it necessary that the audiology profession control seven essential professional elements including: provider quality, quality of care, public awareness, innovation and entrepreneurship, economics and policy, research and development, and data that support the profession.
Influencing and Directing Change
A focus of the group was to identify desired conditions that would result from efforts of the group to influence and direct change. The desired conditions of audiology that correspond to each of the seven essential elements are shown in the Table below.
The Future of Audiology Coalition created seven solution-oriented action teams, corresponding with the essential elements shown in the Table above. Team leaders were identified from meeting volunteers and participants agreed to join as action team members. Additional action team members are needed from the profession so the teams have the expertise, influence, and diversity they need to accomplish their tasks.
Group Seeks Audiology Volunteers
Audiologists from around the country are encouraged to volunteer. Team progress will be reported back to the coalition and the profession. For this movement to succeed, it will require a unified voice from the audiology profession and will call upon members and professional organizations to carry out action plans. The coalition is hoping that many of you join this journey toward this envisioned future.
Please reach out to any of the Future of Audiology Coalition members below to discuss this exciting endeavor, or most importantly, to lend your expertise and time.