With the Hearing Aid Industry at a Crossroads, it's future may very well lie in it's past.
Thank you for the past year of hard work, frustration, and minor victories on our behalf.
Yet, for many of us the changes we see in our practices, marketplace, equipment, and consumers everyday far outstrip our organization's’ attempts to keep up.
For others, it even appears we are wasting our time, energy, and valuable human resources tasking them to hold back the proverbial tides of change that seemingly rise everywhere we look.
I would like to forward that the answer to much of our current predicament lies in the very roots of our organization. In a time when we were an organization of dispensing hearing aid dealers, operating under an open, free market model, and not under a restrictive medical model of dispensing.
“Best Practices” were then whatever brought in the most customers, and kept them coming back. Figuring out what each patient needed was the job of the professional to decide with the tools at hand, using the protocols of the day, in a much simpler era.
Along the way, they got together to share the ideas that worked, and began to steer legislation that grew into the licensing laws that govern our practices today. All in our history even, if an oversimplified one.
Obviously, during these efforts, our various governing boards were formed and, rules regularly passed into law. Yet these laws, and rules were seldom if ever revisited for their effects, either intended, or unintended, or even more seldom eliminated. Though all of these growing list of rules added to our costs, these costs of compliance were always simply shifted to the consumer.
The problem is, that these myriad of regulations accumulate, and have not only added considerably to the costs of our providing goods, and services to the public, there are much more pernicious costs when we regulate to the realities of the eighties, and our own special interests, rather than those contingencies, and realities we face today.
The first of these pernicious costs is that many of these regulations have absolutely nothing to do with the legislative mandates of the Boards when created. That mandate being very simply that of protecting the public from financial, and physical harm.
The rules now holding us all back have everything to do with protecting very narrow special interests, rather than the public itself.
They fall into three basic categories; those rules that restrict access, those that restrict educational opportunity, and those that restrict, or even prohibit innovation in our protocols, and business processes.
Continuing to support chapters who stack boards, with members, rules and practices that upon even simple scrutiny benefit, and support only state affiliates, the IHS itself, and its officers to the exclusion of others, is a clear usurpation of statutory authority.
The net effects such rules are having is the opposite of their intended, creating instead resentment, and making it difficult to bring in either new blood, or ideas.
There is a growing segment of the public, and our own profession who see through the transparent self serving nature of such regulations, and understand how they are all about monopolistic rather than free market practices.
I would purpose it is well past time to cast aside all of these restrictions, boards, and their licenses.
Time to go back to our roots to a free market model, rather than a restrictive medical model of dispensing.
Time to go back to validating our skills, and credentials via certification, rather than licensure.
Time to recognize that the only ones benefiting from the current regulations are certain individuals, and organizations who wish a monopoly on where the public can get help, or where we can go to get our education, or prepare our new hires.
When the rules we must live by only apply to licensees, and not insurance giants, the manufacturers themselves, or any other person, or company with a website, it’s past time to remove the restrictions that keep us on an uneven playing field, and rob us of the ability to innovate in the face of the changes surrounding us all every day.
So please esteemed colleagues, consider the idea that we would all be better off Certifying our education, and credentials rather than relying on a license, with all its attendant costs, and restrictions.
Consider the innovations possible if we stop trying to find a universal set of “best practices” that must be followed by all, at every fitting, and actually treated our colleagues, and members as the professionals we wish to be known as.
Have the courage and professional integrity to allow us each to decide what is in the best interest of the patient presenting, and allow us as professionals, to help that patient to choose for themselves, rather than both being dictated to by regulations developed in a different century, and era for equipment seldom used today.
Please understand that I am not against education. Because, I am, and for lots of it, and continuing. I am not against validation of our skills, or that education through rigorous examinations, prior to us becoming certified at various levels of professional competence.
However, it is long past time to reopen up our profession, and stop trying to dictate what is best for either consumers, or members.
Past time to deregulate from the current licensure status, and go back to the future, with a multi level, educational and certification process, in order to reinvigorate our profession with both the new blood, and innovative ideas we all need to face the future that is now upon us.
Thank you one and all for your efforts on our behalf. I look forward to meeting you in person this September in the Shadow of the Mouse.
Till then, be blessed, each and every one, and know that what we do changes lives, we and what we do matters. And, the freer we are to innovate, the more lives we can change, and the better we will all be for doing so.
R. D.’Dan’ Taylor, ACA, BC/HIS
The reason I’ve used this blog forum is to invite any who wish to comment, disagree, or debate my recommendations, may simply use the form provided to do so.