As reported in the Hearing Journal, a recent small study undertaken in Australia on self fitting hearing aids has thrown up some interesting results. Although the study was small, it has added some weight to the call for further study. Its conclusions were as follows "While limited, these data suggest that self-fitting aids may provide satisfactory benefit and performance to those who can manage the self-fitting process. Our findings show that at least one currently available self-fitting product is comparable to those measured with professionally dispensed hearing aids".
Again, the study was limited in numbers, however it's conclusions are in line with the thoughts of many hearing aid activists. For many years hearing aid activists across the world have called for greater control and inclusion in their care. Many have called for the power to undertake fine tuning and some have consistently called for self fitting to be offered as a feature. This study gives some weight to that call. Let's take a look at the study in greater detail. The study was completed by only five people, however, the age range of the group is of interest. The group was aged between 72 and 79 years of age.
Quite often this cohort is considered by many in the profession as people who would not necessarily be interested in technology and participation in their own care. The fact that these people were involved in a trial of self fitting hearing aids seems to advise us to re-consider our outlook. In essence the trial proved that the concept of self fitting hearing aids providing benefit of similar nature to assisted fitted hearing aids has validity.
There is of course a caveat, self fitting is only for people who can manage the self fitting process. Again, that makes sense and is inline with the thoughts of hearing aid advocates like Steve. In essence most hearing aid advocates think that self fitting and or fine tuning will be of interest to a cohort of hearing aid users, not necessarily everyone. They also believe that even the people who are interested in self fitting or fine tuning will still want some sort of involvement of a professional in the process.
Self Fitting Hearing Aids Available
Self fitting hearing aids have been available for some time in Australia. Blamey and Saunders have offered self fitting hearing aids for some time now. The hearing aids are purchased online and a kit is sent out to help you fit them.
Self fitting hearing aids have also become available in the US with the recent introduction of the iHear product line up. In fact iHear have the only FDA approved home hearing test kit in the States. So there is a demand for the products and it appears that demand is growing.
The key worry for professionals is around efficacy and safety for users. The study goes some way to alleviating fears. Knowing all of this, the question has to be will self fitting of hearing aids become the norm? If it does, what input if any will be wanted from professionals by consumers? I think professionals will have to begin to explore this question, they will also have to decide what they can offer and how they can do it.
As to the future of self fitting, I think it will probably come to pass. There is a demand for it and that demand is being very cleverly met by businesses globally. I think as the market and demand grows more traditional hearing aid manufacturers will need to look at it. Although, I do think that it is a market that will run in tandem with the traditional type of hearing aid provision. I also think that self fitters will want some involvement of professionals in the process. Whether that service element is provided by the manufacturers of the devices or third party providers will remain to be seen.
We would love to hear your thoughts on self fitting of hearing aids, drop us a line at info@hearingaidknow and let us know what you think.