We recently posted an article on our recap of hearing care in 2020. It’s been a long, strange year, but there were some noteworthy stories to come out of the world of audiology. Hopefully 2021 will be less chaotic and filled with much more positivity. Before we ring in the New Year, we wanted to share some predictions with you. Here is what we think will happen in the world of audiology in 2021.
Increased Interest on Tele-Audiology
With COVID-19 still spreading like wildfire, hearing care practices will need to figure out ways to see and treat patients while also reducing contact with them. In 2021, we will see more hearing healthcare facilities improve their IT infrastructure so they can better handle a tele-audiology program. Additionally, they will add necessary equipment and hire specialized personnel that can effectively run and grow the program. 2020 showed us that a need for tele-audiology came sooner than expected, and we will see more organizations act on that need in 2021.
More Self Testing
Likewise, increased need to reduce contact during hearing tests will influence patients to seek out more self-testing options. You may think that this could be detrimental to audiologists, but we think the opposite. With more self-testing technologies becoming readily available to consumers, more people will be inclined to get their hearing screened.
Picture this: Someone is shopping at Costco and sees a hearing screening kiosk. They’ve been having a hard time hearing certain sounds lately, so they decide to take a few minutes to do a self-test. The results recommend that they should be seen by a professional, so they schedule an appointment with a local practice. In this scenario, that’s one new patient who may have never sought out treatment if such an easy screening option wasn’t available.
Exciting Technological Innovations
We saw some amazing innovation in 2020 with the release of new hearing screening technologies such as GSI’s Audera Pro, Interacoustics’ Affinity Compact, and MedRx’s new VRA and Kiosk systems. This trend will continue in 2021 with hearing screening and diagnostic equipment manufacturers looking to find new, innovative ways to test and treat patients with greater speed and as little contact as possible. Be on the lookout next year for some exciting new technologies from our manufacturer partners!
Greater Adoption of Hearing Aids
With more and more research being published about the correlation between hearing loss and cognitive decline, as well as easier avenues to receive hearing screenings becoming readily available, we will see a greater adoption of hearing aids in 2021.
Modern hearing aids are sleeker and more discrete, so there is less resistance from consumers who are worried about style. Additionally, newer hearing aids are equipped with Bluetooth technology that allows the user to connect to their phone, smart home appliances, and other Bluetooth-enabled technologies. Lastly, OTC hearing aids are going to offer consumers with more cost-effective opportunities to improve their hearing. These individuals may be impressed by the results of their OTC device and seek out higher-end instruments as a result.
The negative stigma of wearing hearing aids is quickly becoming a thing of the past, and that will remain true in 2021.
So there you have it. If these predictions hold true, 2021 could be an exciting year. At the very least, let's just hope it is better than 2020 was.