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HLAA does not oppose online hearing aid sales, HIA does

In a recent address to a hearing advisory council, Brenda Battat, chief executive of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) stated that the HLAA is not opposed to online hearing aid sales.

She specifically mentioned hi HealthInnovations, a subsidiary of United Healthcare that started an online HA service in October 2011. The hi HealthInnovations website includes an online hearing test, after taking the test your results are used to determine whether you can be sold an aid through the site or whether you need to visit a bricks and mortar audiologist/dispenser office for a more in-depth assessment.

She goes on to mention that the Hearing Industries Association (HIA) have sent a letter to the FDA claiming that hi HealthInnovations is illegally distributing hearing aids and they have requested that the FDA initiate some kind of action against them. Pretty strong stuff. The HIA is a trade association of hearing aid manufacturers that includes all of the big players.

I’ve never bought a hearing aid online so I can’t vouch for their quality but services like hi HealthInnovations feels like the future of hearing aid dispensing to me. Studies and reports are being released every month that show that only a fraction of the people who could benefit from a hearing aid are wearing one, so surely making it easier and cheaper for people to try an HA is a good thing?

Here’s a quote from Brenda’s address that sums up my feelings perfectly:

We support opening up more options for consumers, more doors to enter the channel, and lower hurdles to encourage the millions of people who do nothing about their hearing loss.

Here is the PDF version of Brenda’s address.