Hearing Aid Industry at a Crossroads
The fact that this single $122 Billion a year company, had the audacity, and dared to do it’s own risk and cost/benefit analysis of the current hearing aid delivery system, and rejected most of the ever evolving, and cherished protocols associated with dispensing in the past, has two entire professional communities in a highly flummoxed state.
Both the Governor’s office, and office of State Treasurer, and Insurance Commissioner of the State of Florida, have responded with “not my job” replies, when apprised of these operations. This willful ignorance creates a real serious fourteenth amendment, Federal constitutional issues for any state Board that would seek to hold a licensee to stricter standards than the state is willing to enforce upon this insurance behemoth.
Taking such an individual action, while ignoring the flagrant, public actions of these other players, would create a Prima Facie case of a Federal violation of the civil rights of the individual upon whom such enforcement action would be attempted.
This would open any state official to Federal investigation, and prosecution for pursuing such activities, as well as removing the normal protections afforded officers of the state under the doctrine of sovereign immunity, from civil liability, as they would be committing an act of malfeasance, by knowingly violating someone’s Federally protected civil rights.
As exists now, with the attempt at regulating licensees, there is a situation akin to what we used to refer to back in my days as a Trooper on the Florida Highway Patrol, as ‘Stamping out the ants, and letting the elephants run wild.’.
Obviously the current, licensed, medical model of dispensing hearing aids, has broken down.
Unable, or unwilling to enforce regulations equally, the licensing Boards are functionally impotent.
Short of someone failing to return the money to a consumer under the state’s thirty day return law, and thus committing a felony, doing much else in the form of enforcement of the state’s myriad dispensing rules, rules that are being openly violated by Health Innovations, and others with impunity, is simply a dog that won’t hunt anymore, from a legal standpoint.
Cry, moan, gnash their teeth, or pull out more validation studies to justify academic ‘best practices’ simply misses the point. The facts surrounding everything we’ve thought about concerning hearing aids, and their dispensing has changed.
So, what does this mean for the consumer of the future?
More choices, and responsibility for making those choices.
What’s in store for the dispensers, and audiologists of the future?
The opportunities to grow their practices free of burdensome regulations, and focus on demonstrating both the life changing benefits of adopting our recommendations to an ever wider market, reaching, and changing more lives through both our gear, and our expertise.
Or, the opportunity to continue to live in the past, ignoring the realities of the present, it’s excitingly cool gear, the lives it could change, and a painful fade into irrelevance.
The jury is out on whether our respective Professional associations, such as IHS, AAA, and ASHA will begin to respond positively to the opportunities, and changes that these new realities present, or continue to waste time, resources and energies fighting over turf, protocols, standards, and ‘best practices’, while the Hand of Smith’s market correction sweeps them from the playing field.
Change is upon our industry. The medical model no longer serves, and is being discarded by single, corporate players with annual revenues exceeding twenty times that of our entire industry’s. To continue to attempt to drive our businesses down the broken tracks of a discarded medical model, when a market based model serves everyone, excepting those who wish to be protected, better, is to welcome oblivion.
As you know, I am an agent of change.
I embrace these long overdue corrections to an incredibly inefficient delivery system. I look forward to leading the way forward, to a better model and experience for consumer, professional, and manufacturer alike.
For it is only when it is a good deal for everyone involved, that we will truly move forward and begin to reach that other eighty percent of folks we know who could benefit, but aren’t, for whatever reason.
Too long has it been regulations of, for and by the regulated, under the guise of consumer protection.
Those days are over.
Time to move on, and join the very simple mission, of helping more people, help more people hear better, or become part of the wreckage.