Hearing loss in your community might be worse than you think.
But while it’s true that hearing loss is widespread—in fact, in the US, it’s twice as common as diabetes or cancer—there are solutions available that provide opportunities for community healthcare providers and retailers to take a more proactive, meaningful approach to addressing hearing loss.
The first step towards unlocking these opportunities is to gain a better understanding of hearing loss in the US, and how it impacts your community.
How widespread is hearing loss in the US?
In the United States, it’s estimated that over 15% of adults have trouble hearing. And among adults over age 70, that figure rises sharply: over 80% of people aged 70 and over have hearing loss in at least one ear.
It’s important to note that where someone lives in the US can play a role in whether and to what extent they suffer hearing loss. Approximately 14% of Americans live in rural areas with limited access to healthcare facilities. And this number is growing: as aging Americans move to rural retirement communities, the members of society most susceptible to hearing loss are put at greater risk due to lack of access to critical resources.
This issue highlights the real and present need for community-based services for reliable, accurate hearing testing.
What impact does hearing loss have on individuals and communities?
The impact of hearing loss on individuals and communities is profound. According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, “hearing loss has been shown to to negatively impact nearly every dimension of the human experience.”
Globally, hearing loss is the fourth-leading cause of disability with clear links to an increased risk of depression, social isolation, and cognitive decline. Other negative health outcomes attributed to hearing loss can include walking problems and falls, anxiety, and dementia.
Outside of negative health outcomes, hearing loss has an economic cost for individuals and communities.
Over their lifetime, the earning potential of people with hearing loss is estimated to be 50-70% less than those without hearing loss. Further, household income can be negatively impacted by up to $12,000 per year for those with hearing loss.
On a global scale, the economic impact of hearing loss on communities is estimated to be around $750 Billion. That’s a huge number, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg: a study in the US showed that individuals with untreated hearing loss can cost society hundreds of thousands of dollars every year. In light of statistics like these, it’s critical for communities to offer effective hearing loss care, including accessible testing and treatment.
What testing and treatment is currently available to individuals with hearing loss?
Typically, people suffering from hearing loss must see an audiologist for a hearing test before being fitted for a hearing aid. Often, this requires a referral from a physician, and it’s not uncommon for patients to wait weeks or longer before an appointment. Individuals who suffer from hearing loss often wait years before seeking help, which brings these already-problematic delays in treatment into even sharper focus.
Following hearing testing by an audiologist, patients are prescribed a hearing aid or hearing aids, which must be ordered and fitted. End-to-end, this process can take several weeks, further extending the critical time between diagnosis and treatment. Of course, not all adults with hearing loss seek testing or treatment, and even among those who do, there’s not always a clear path to care.
Surveys have shown that people suffering from hearing loss routinely fail to seek adequate testing and treatment, or encounter some barrier to success along the way: Per Forbes, 47% of adults surveyed lack medical coverage for an expensive hearing aid, 41% don’t believe their hearing loss is bad enough to warrant the use of hearing aids, and 38% struggled to get a prescription from their doctor.
As a result of these, and other barriers to access (including perceived stigma surrounding the use of hearing aids and a national shortage of audiologists), a disproportionately low number of people with hearing loss actually seek treatment or use a hearing aid. This reality makes it clear that the current approach to hearing testing and treatment in the US is in need of an evolution towards something more accessible, more affordable, and more effective.
How AUDIMETROID can accelerate improved community health
AUDIMETROID is the world’s first purpose-built, accurate hearing testing technology for community-based healthcare providers. It’s a scaleable, cost-effective solution specifically designed for fast and easy adoption that drives immediate, visible health and economic impact.
Community healthcare providers and retailers can safely deploy a hearing test using AUDIMETROID without any formal training in audiology or medicine. All that’s required to administer a test is a quiet, safe room. Further, AUDIMETROID is lightweight, wireless kit that can easily be deployed in a number of environments, like pharmacies or retailers, community centers, or retirement homes.
The portability and ease of use of AUDIMETROID means that it’s equally deployable in a rural setting as it is in an urban setting. Plus, AUDIMETROID makes on-the-spot hearing testing a real possibility for community healthcare providers, further helping to alleviate the burdens associated with traditional hearing testing, including physician referrals, long wait times for appointments, and hospital visits.
On-the-spot testing also offers community healthcare providers and retailers the opportunity to more effectively offer OTC hearing aids. By integrating hearing testing and treatment for hearing loss into the same on-the-spot experience, healthcare providers can offer residents a seamless journey towards improved health, and make a direct positive impact in the communities that they serve.
To learn more about how AUDIMETROID can help your team improve community health outcomes, just get in touch with a member of our team.