Community Retailers and Healthcare Providers: What to Know About OTC Hearing Aids

Over-the-Counter (OTC) non-prescription hearing aids have been available to individuals with perceived mild to moderate hearing loss in the United States for nearly a year. Since then, studies have confirmed that these devices are proven to increase uptake of hearing aids. This includes uptake across both older and younger generations, creating very real potential for sustained growth in this market. In fact, current forecasting predicts that the OTC hearing aids market value will surpass $1.7B by 2030.  

For community retailers and healthcare providers, it’s important to better understand the market for OTC hearing aids, and to uncover the opportunities that accompany this increased access to critical, community-based healthcare.

For those with mild to moderate hearing loss, OTC hearing aids are as effective as expensive prescription options

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) recently published a study confirming that OTC hearing aids are as effective as prescription hearing aids for those with mild to moderate hearing loss. The study established that OTC hearing aids could provide similar outcomes to hearing aids fitted according to audiologist best practices.

The quality of OTC hearing aids should help to bolster confidence in such devices, ultimately leading to increased uptake, particularly given the reduced barriers to access when compared with traditional, audiologist-fitted hearing aids.

OTC hearing aids are popular across generations

Growth of the OTC hearing aids market is primarily driven by older patients, but there’s also been an uptick in adoption among patients under 60. This virtually untapped market opens up a major opportunity for retailers and healthcare providers. And as stigma surrounding hearing aids decreases, and adoption becomes more likely from an earlier age, the opportunity to more adequately address hearing loss in communities becomes a reality.

Self-fitting patients require guidance before purchasing a hearing aid OTC

Generally, patients are fitted for hearing aids by an audiologist. OTC hearing aids still require fitting, and patients unfamiliar with hearing aids – or those getting a new device – require help to ensure they choose the appropriate hearing aid, and fit it correctly. Providing this type of assistance is critical to ensuring that customers not only have an enjoyable (and not frustrating) fitting experience, but that they actually experience positive outcomes. 

But before a hearing aid can be selected and fitted, an individual should also be provided with information and guidance about their own hearing loss. When a clinical level hearing test can be deployed in the same environment – on the same day – that a hearing aid is selected and fitted, the odds of uptake are likely to dramatically increase. AUDIMETROID is the world’s first purpose-built, accurate hearing testing technology for community healthcare providers. It’s compact, wireless technology that can be deployed quickly in a number of settings – all you need to conduct a hearing test with AUDIMETROID is a safe, quiet room. And unlike traditional hearing tests, an assessment with AUDIMETROID can be safely conducted by any employee, without any formal training in audiology. 

By providing accurate, on-the-spot hearing testing, retailers and healthcare providers can more efficiently provide customers with hearing aids suited to their individual needs. This will result in a better patient experience, and improved patient outcomes.

OTC hearing aids are a key opportunity for retailers and healthcare providers to drive general community wellness

OTC hearing aids are a revolution in hearing care, with the potential to drive positive health outcomes across communities. Untreated hearing loss is known to cause or contribute to a range of health issues, including cognitive decline, depression, and an overall reduced quality of life, and the effects of these outcomes on communities has the potential to be devastating. Hearing loss may go untreated for a number of reasons, including embarrassment or stigma, but it can also go untreated due to inadequate access to testing and care.

Audiologists are a scarce resource, and patients might wait weeks or months for an appointment following an appropriate (and sometimes lengthy) referral process. And once a patient has seen an audiologist and made the decision to treat their hearing loss, the cost of a hearing aid is often prohibitive.

AUDIMETROID eliminates the need for patients to wait before getting a clinical-level hearing test. Not only can a patient walk-in to a pharmacy or community center and get their hearing tested immediately, they can then purchase a hearing aid cheaper than a similar prescription device, without sacrificing quality.

With increased access to adequate care comes better patient outcomes and, ultimately, improved community wellness.

Further investment in the OTC market may accelerate innovation across the spectrum of hearing aids and treatment for hearing loss 

Innovation breeds innovation. The creation of an OTC hearing aid market sector is predicted to drive continued investment in this critical area of care. As this market grows and becomes more competitive, innovation will also continue to grow. Ultimately, the burgeoning OTC hearing aid market will result in exciting, important innovations for hearing care – including, for example, companies working to make hearing aids as appealing as AirPods.

With a $1.7B predicted market value by 2030, the possibilities for innovation in this space are incredible, and important. Accordingly, it’s critical for community retailers and healthcare providers to ensure that they’re at the forefront of these advances, both in the products that they sell, and the services and guidance that they offer.

To learn more about how AUDIMETROID can help teams deploy cutting edge, clinical level care in a community setting, just reach out to a member of our team.

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