hi HealthInnovations (a UnitedHealthcare subsidiary): ASHA's Involvement
Direct-to-Consumer Hearing Aid Sales
In 2011, ASHA began communicating with hi HealthInnovations CEO Lisa Tseng, MD, to address concerns raised by their model.
- Direct-to-consumer hearing aid sales without audiology support for assessment, fitting, and follow-up is not in the best interest of the patient.
- Internet hearing tests do not take into account potential problems of allowing patients to self-diagnose a medical condition through a series of questions. Further, pure tone hearing thresholds are only one of many measures that should be undertaken to determine hearing aid selection.
Recommendations ASHA Provided to hi HealthInnovations
- Label and use the online hearing test as a screening tool to direct people who suspect they have hearing loss to a hearing health professional.
- Expand the hearing benefit to include diagnostic and rehabilitation services of an audiologist. (Medicare already covers the initial physician visit as well as the diagnostic evaluation from an audiologist.)
- Work with audiologists so they can incorporate hi HealthInnovations hearing aids into their offerings for Medicare patients.
See Letter to Dr. Tseng (12/7/2011) [PDF]
Hearing Health Collaborative Efforts
The Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA), American Academy of Audiology (AAA), American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS), American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), and International Hearing Society (IHS) stand together, committed to increasing awareness of the benefits of amplification, and to finding safe and effective solutions that help the 75% of consumers who could benefit from hearing aids but cannot afford to purchase them or have chosen not to use them.
While we appreciate the desire of persons, companies, and organizations to reach more individuals in need of hearing aids, our organizations believe that patients must have access to a comprehensive hearing evaluation performed by a hearing health professional, be appropriately fitted by an individual licensed/registered in the state to dispense hearing aids, and have access to auditory rehabilitation and counseling to ensure appropriate fit and use of the hearing aid device.