American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Practice Considerations for Dispensing Audiologists

Health care delivery models—specifically including those for hearing health—are changing quickly. The digital revolution is one of the major drivers of this paradigm shift in the delivery of professional services. Regarding audiology, insurance companies are increasingly using a direct-to-consumer approach to market and sell hearing aids at full or discounted prices via the Internet.

The resources described below were created to inform audiologists and prepare them to adapt to these marketplace changes, so that they will continue to be recognized as the professionals whose training, certification and licensure makes them best suited to serve individuals with hearing loss.

Hearing Aid Professional Services Guidance
These guiding documents give clinicians tools to help them reach optimal outcomes for patients. See the August 16, 2012 joint letter to audiologists regarding service delivery changes [PDF].

Insurance and Hearing Aids
Hearing aids are not covered by Medicare; however, Medicaid or private insurance plans may cover the cost of hearing aids in whole or in part.

Health Care Reform
In broad terms, health care reform is any attempt to significantly create or change traditional health care policy or delivery models. Health care reform typically tries to increase access to health care, lower health care costs, and improve quality of care.

hi HealthInnovations Practice Model
The collaboration between UnitedHealth Group and its subsidiary, hi HealthInnovations, is the first model to sell hearing aids over the Internet as an insurance benefit.

Glossary of Health Care Business Terms
Audiologists and other health care providers should be familiar with health care business terms.

Retailers for Hearing Aids, Personal Sound Amplification Products, and Apps
Vendors and manufacturers are selling hearing aid devices, personal sound amplification products, and applications in stores or online. ASHA has been communicating with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regarding oversight of these products.

Telepractice Model
Telepractice offers the potential to extend clinical services to rural, remote, and underserved populations and to culturally and linguistically diverse populations.

Unbundling Hearing Aid Sales
As Internet sales, online hearing aid services, and insurance coverage change, audiologists are faced with the decision to bundle or unbundle hearing aid services.

Marketing
Marketing and promoting an audiology practice is an ongoing endeavor that needs to be continuously evaluated and coordinated with clinic growth and changing business models.

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