Sydlowski_LiaisonFrom OAA President 

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Margaret Mead

 

To Our Valued Members,

I am honored to be serving as your 2017 Ohio Academy of Audiology President as we begin a new year that promises to be full of many challenges, changes, and opportunities.  2016 saw a number of developments that influenced the way many of us approach the practice of audiology. Delivery models for services are changing – consumers have many more options for obtaining hearing devices and possibilities for telepractice continue to be top of mind. Consumers are becoming more educated and interested in proactively self-directing their hearing care. In 2016, we saw reports from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) and the National Academies of Sciences (NAS) that highlighted both the impact of hearing loss on our rapidly aging population and the barriers patients perceive they face when seeking care. These reports challenged hearing healthcare providers to think in new ways about our profession, our service delivery models, and accessibility and affordability for patients.  In particular, both reports included the recommendation that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) create an over-the-counter (OTC) class of hearing aids. In December 2016, the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act was introduced by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and a few days later, the FDA announced their intention to no longer enforce the medical clearance or waiver requirement before fitting a hearing aid.

Opinions about the possible changes on the horizon run the spectrum from strongly opposed to clearly in favor.  Regardless of your position, most perspectives are driven by our shared interest in offering high quality, safe, and effective care for our patients. No matter where you come down on the issue, it is encouraging that hearing health is at the forefront of the national conversation.  All of these reports confirm that what we do is important and people need better access to hearing healthcare… now our opportunity is to capitalize on this recognition to create a positive trajectory for audiology.

The proposed recommendations would certainly have implications for practitioners, for patients, for government agencies and private payors, and for the future of our profession. This is not a year of business as usual. This is a year where having a voice through state and national organizations is of the utmost importance.  We are fortunate in the state of Ohio to have a strong tradition of a busy and effective state academy and this year will be no exception.  On behalf of the OAA, we look forward to representing our membership and their interests… but we can’t do this unless we hear from you!

Take some time to browse the website.  Learn more about the Governmental Affairs Coalition which works to address issues that are pertinent to audiologists practicing in the State of Ohio. Plan to attend the Ohio Audiology Conference February 24-25 and the Vestibular Pre-Con February 23 at the Hilton Polaris in Columbus, Ohio. In additional to a number of excellent presentations on clinical topics, the conference will feature sessions on professional issues facing audiology, the inevitable impact of technology on hearing aid technology & service, and a keynote address by the President of the American Academy of Audiology, Dr. Ian Windmill. Look for upcoming news on this year’s Legislative Reception, held at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, where you will have an opportunity to talk with state legislators about the issues you face in delivering excellent patient care.

It all begins when you renew your membership in OAA; the annual membership drive begins July 1st. By renewing your membership you renew your commitment to promote audiology in Ohio.  When you renew, consider volunteering for a committee… we are always looking for a few good audiologists!

As always, please feel free to contact me with any concerns or questions you may have. I look forward to representing you (and hopefully having the opportunity to hear from you!) this year.

Sincerely,

Sarah A. Sydlowski, Au.D., Ph.D., CCC-A, FAAA, CISC

President, Ohio Academy of Audiology