Any grizzled audiologist wandering the expo floor at the recently concluded AAA convention, auspiciously known this year as The Best of Audiology, had to be a little stunned by how the once marquee show floor has gradually shrunk in just a few short years.
It wasn’t that long ago, after all, when some of the larger hearing aid manufacturers sported double-decker booths and every hearing-related company under the sun occupied floor space. Even though several mainstay hearing aid manufacturers, including GN Resound and Phonak no longer have any type of expo presence, others representing the Big 6 (with the recent merger of Widex and Signia are now down to five) still anchor the expo floor – albeit with a more modest booth.
A meander through the expo suggests that although the show is noticeably smaller, there remains plenty to see. When not being accosted by peddlers of $200 facials and therapeutic massages (something AAA needs to seriously eliminate from the expo in the future), attendees could interact with a growing number of new and novel technology.
From low end modular PSAPs to AI-driven diagnostic equipment to self-fitting hearing devices, the range of technologies available to audiologists has continued to broaden, and given the low turnout this year in Columbus, booth vendors could spend valuable face time with a paucity of prospective customers.
Although the overall size of the annual meeting and expo floor underwhelmed, the quality of educational courses seemed to be strong. With about a dozen Featured Sessions, ranging in topics from Medicare economics to ethics and from pediatric vestibular issues to tele-audiology, attendees could take a deep dive into some cutting-edge topics – all found under one roof.
Despite Lower Turnout, Many Quality Learning Opportunities Offered
In addition to a focused slate of Featured Sessions, the convention provided attendees with four Grand Rounds courses, more than 50 Learning Modules and dozens of Mini-Modules and Industry Updates.
By several accounts, this year’s meeting lacked some of the fireworks of recent meetings past when it seemed a new bombshell was dropped every year on the attendees. Now that audiologists have had time to digest the growth of big-box retail, the rise of Medicare Advantage programs, near endless vertical integration, grappled with direct access to Medicare issues and looming OTC devices, maybe the profession is making peace with a disruptive, yet bright future – issues to be reassessed when the Academy holds its annual meeting next April in the Big Easy.