The Oxymoron of OTC Hearing Aids: Mass Marketization of a Personalized Product
Hearing loss is a public health concern. Recent national legislation has been passed to introduce a future technological disruptor: over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids. When OTC hearing aids become available, there will be numerous benefits and drawbacks that the consumer will need to consider before buying such a device. OTC hearing aids will not need a licensed professional to dispense them to the public, nor will members of the public need to obtain a hearing evaluation prior to purchasing them. Audiology clinics may no longer be able to differentiate themselves from other entities unless a different revenue model is introduced. Furthermore, consumers will need to be educated enough to decide whether or not to buy an OTC hearing aid. There are likely to be important ethical concerns in advertising OTC hearing aids as well. With all this in mind, regulation of future marketing messages in the audiology industry may be required to broaden consumer education and guard against unsubstantiated claims.