An article that I wrote was just published in an industry trade journal called The Hearing Review. The article focuses on how the hearing aid industry is perceived by those outside of the industry and what we can learn from that perception.
I wrote the article after having listened for years to the opinions of people in the Bay Area and around the world on the hearing aid industry. While many of their perceptions were incorrect or out of date, they still revealed to me what we as an industry were doing wrong. I also thought about what the implication of these misperceptions were for our industry—we should not simply ignore them for being wrong and irrelevant because those opinions they have indirect consequences for the growth of our industry.
One of the main messages of the article is that evidence-based product development by companies and evidence-based practice by audiologists can help spur the development of new technology. If companies provide clinical data on patient benefit for their products and audiologists use that data in their decisions on what technology to give to their patients, entrepreneurs will be more motivated to develop new technology for the hearing impaired. This is because they will have confidence that demonstating patient benefit with their technology will result in success in the marketplace and a profitable return on their investment.
A side-bar in the article discusses how to realistically assess the potential market size of the hearing aid industry, a topic that I discussed relative to any industry in a previous post called How Big Is Your Potential Market.
Here are a couple clips from the article:
Despite all of these positive indicators that our industry is healthy and growing, many people outside of our industry still look upon the hearing aid business as if it were small, antiquated, and uninteresting. These outside opinions affect future customers by influencing their opinion of hearing technology and the process of obtaining a hearing aid. It also affects our industry in more subtle ways: Top university graduates may not be attracted to work in our industry, technology innovators may not be interested to contribute to our industry, and high-tech companies may be reluctant to pursue business opportunities in our arena. These influences can only have the effect of dampening the growth potential for dispensing professionals and companies in the hearing aid industry.
We can embrace the aspects of other industries that are likely to bring about positive change and that promote the integrity and quality of its products and services. Valid clinical data that demonstrate product benefit should become a part of product development industry-wide. This clinical data should be made openly available to audiologists and other dispensing professionals, and these professionals should embrace the evidence-based practice approach. Hearing care professionals should know what benefit new products provide to patients, should demand supportive data from manufacturers, and should be cautious when they see claims that are vaguely worded with no supporting data. This approach is understood by everyone outside of our field, and by embracing these standards industry-wide, we can only increase support for our industry among government, health insurance companies, health care professionals and potential patients.