Top Stories of 2018 and a Salute to Dickens’ Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol recounts the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, an elderly miser who is visited by the ghost of his former business partner, Jacob Marley, and the spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. After their visits with him, Mr. Scrooge is transformed into a kinder, gentler man. The ghosts in Dickens’ classic novel are a metaphor for the biggest industry news stories of 2018. Here are the top six most popular articles posted at HHTM’s Hearing News Watch this year.

This top story, like the Ghost of Christmas Past, reminded us of a more innocent time in the U.S. when unscrupulous business executives and politicians could lie, cheat or steal and not get away with it:

The Ghost of Christmas Past also reminded us that some stories just don’t simply vanish. Politics, an unavoidable part of any industry, generated many of the same old heated debates about the role Audiologists play in Medicare reimbursement:

Also, the size and scale of hearing aid manufacturers continues to come into question in the face of another potential merger as the Big Six is pared to five:

 

Third Party Payers and the Ghost of Christmas Present

 

The year began with an investor’s report indicating insurance funding for hearing aids in the U.S. would double within the next five years from its current status where 5 to 10% of hearing aid purchases are at least partially funded by third party insurance contracts.

Like the Ghost of Christmas Present, we are reminded that tried and true business models are shifting right below our feet.

Although the presence of third party payers is certainly not new to the industry, the rapidly growing Medicare-eligible population combined with the high out-of-pocket costs of hearing aids are two of the main drivers of greater insurance involvement in the American private market, as these two popular stories from 2018 attest:

 

A Premonition from the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come

 

Finally, like Scrooge, the industry is awakened to a future in which radical changes involving artificial intelligence and pharmaceutical solutions to hearing loss are no longer science fiction, but becoming reality.

Our most popular story of 2018 was an announcement last January from start-up company, Frequency Therapeutics and it’s successful completion of first-in-human hair cell restoration.

 

As 2018 comes to a close, let us at HHTM thank you, our readers, for your time, attention and support. We wish everyone a happy and peaceful new year.


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