Audiology in the Media

Audiology receives some attention in the press and television – including attention to new technologies to assist those who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing.

We share our response to some recent reports on audiology in the media.

ABC radio featured two segments in June 2016 that addressed the lack of regulation in the audiology field.  Details can be found here.

Australian Financial Review health editor Jill Margo reports on hearing and cognition on 7 April in her article “Brain changes caused by hearing loss can be slowed“, which features in the Men’s Health section of the print and online media.

Personal Finance Reporter Kate Cowling reports in the Fairfax Media in March 2016 on some of the difficulties associated with hearing devices when viewed as a simple solution to the communication difficulties arising from hearing loss.  The sound of silence: why hard-of-hearing retirees are without hearing aids.

ABC 7.30 report screened a segment on the future of Australian Hearing and the need for regulation of the audiology profession.  The programme featured audiologists Dr Bill Vass and Dr Louise Collingridge who is a member of IAA and  IAA Executive Officer.

Radio National’s Background Briefing aired a programme entitled
Have I got a hearing aid for you! on 30 November 2014 and 2 December 2014, and reaired the programme in April 2015.  The programme raised very important issues about the commercial and corporate influences present in audiology clinics.  Several members of Independent Audiologists Australia were interviewed for the programme and some were featured.  A discussion online has followed the programme, which is of interest to both the public and to the profession.  Independent Audiologists Australia had already planned a seminar to address matters related to ethical practice in conjunction with Independent Audiologists New Zealand, which is taking place from 15 – 17 May 2015 in Wellington, NZ.  We encourage discussion about these issues with regulators, with the public, and within the profession and we hope to see positive change result from increased awareness through this radio programme and other similar forms of publicity.

Radio National’s Life Matters aired an interview with Donna McDonald, who grew up as an oral deaf person in Australia on Thursday 19 February 2014. Donna is an author, policy advisor, and currently the convenor of the disabilities programe at Griffith University.  Donna published a book, The Art of Being Deaf in 2014.  The interview raises different experiences of deafness as diverse, rather than uniform.  Although discussing her experiences growing up, the interview raises issues contemporary issues of communication, identity and the lived experience of deafness.

Radio National’s Health Report aired  a 30 minute segment on hearing aids on Monday 17 February 2014, which focussed on the hearing aid industry.  The programme featured AAAPP member Michael Gordon.  The programme also features Harvey Dillon & Simon Carlile, both of whom have been invited speakers to AAAPP seminars.  The programme raises the complexity of finding solutions to hearing difficulties.  It also does differentiate between audiologists and hearing aid companies selling hearing aids, and raises issues of registration and regulation of audiology in Australia.  The programme could be heard on Radio National on Monday 17 February 2014 at 5.30 pm EST or accessed at
http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/healthreport/monday-february-16th/5234802

AAAPP/IAA welcomes the discussion that this programme has generated regarding the limitations of hearing devices and the lack regulation that applies in this area.  As Audiologists who hold university qualifications in our field, and as members of AAAPP/IAA who own audiology practices, we support the national registration of Audiologists under a registration board that would serve to protect the public by ensuring that audiological services were only delivered by those registered to do so in Australia.

Hearing HQ Magazine’s Helen Lowy has authored an article entitled “The Real Cost of Hearing Aids”, which appeared in the April 2013 edition of the magazine. The magazine is available online here . AAAPP Member, Roberta Marino, is a regular contributor to the magazine. Dr Louise Collingridge (also our part time Executive Officer) contributed to the article on funding of audiology services.
A few issues were not clearly stated in the article, and need further explanation.
The article left the impression that some services are available for “free” to those under the Office of Hearing Services. The services are not offered “free” but are paid for by the Office of Hearing Services under the current scheme to fund hearing devices supplied to those who are issued vouchers by that office.

The article referred to clinics as “accredited” by the Audiological Society of Australia. No clinics are currently “accredited” and Audiology remains an unregistered profession. AAAPP recommends that you ask staff at the clinic you visit about their qualifications and affiliations.

The article mentioned “commissions” being paid to independent audiologists by hearing aid manufacturers.
IAA/AAAPP Code of Ethics, which all our members are signatories to, requires members to:
Ensure that the clinician-client transaction is transparent, including influences of third parties.
AAAPP members are thus required to disclose any loyalty / reward programme which may be influencing their recommendations to the public.

Choice Magazine’s Uta Mihm authored an article entitled “Say What?” that provided comment on purchasing hearing aids in Australia. The full article appeared in the February 2013 edition. AAAPP member and former AAAPP President, Dirk de Moore, was quoted in the article. The online version of the Choice magazine article and a few online comments can be viewed by the public here.

Several AAAPP members provided input to the journalist. However, there remained a few matters that were not clearly explained about the Audiology field.

Eric Fehres, the business manager for one of our members, Lys Allison, responded to Choice Magazine, explaining their reservations about the content of the article. Eric, in his response to Choice, explains that the purchase of a medical device cannot be viewed separately from the service that is required to fit that device. He also explains clearly the difference between Audiologists and Audiometrists, and the difference between independent and vertically integrated clinics, advising the public to shop around for an audiologist, as opposed to the cheapest device price.

We trust that Choice Magazine will be publishing the responses they have received to their article in full. Eric Fehre’s full letter to Choice Magazine can be found here.