Have You Heard? (September 2015)

ADA and IntriCon Create earVenture to Deliver Value beyond the Device for Audiologists and Patients

The Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA) and IntriCon Corporation, are pleased to announce the launch of earVenture, LLC, a company they co-founded to deliver hearing instruments and educational resources that offer unprecedented value for audiologists and their patients.

In an era when price-sensitive consumers are often forced to choose between unregulated, over-the-counter devices to treat their hearing loss, or nothing at all, earVenture is pleased to introduce FDA-registered alternatives that are both exceptionally simple and simply exceptional.

“ADA is delighted to partner with IntriCon to bring earVenture and its products to audiologists and their patients,” said ADA President Kim Cavitt, Au.D. “Direct-to-consumer sales of unregulated personal sound amplification products (PSAPs) and hearing aids pose documented risks that run contrary to evidence-based clinical and industry practices. earVenture offers high quality hearing instruments at unbundled prices, so audiologists can deliver the model of care of their choosing and focus on the services that provide better patient outcomes at every price point.”

Initial earVenture product offerings include reVel and faVor, which embody streamlined performance and value that will help audiologists compete in any market and serve underserved or never-served populations.

“IntriCon is excited to partner with the ADA to form earVenture—a testament to each organization’s strong commitment to provide audiologists access to high-quality hearing instruments and education resources at attractive price points,” said Mark Gorder, President and Chief Executive Officer of IntriCon. “IntriCon’s long-standing design and development strategy focuses on hearing aid platforms driven by outcome-based features. This philosophy has enabled us to offer technically advanced products to independent audiologists at price points significantly lower than competing devices. Coupled with best practices, we believe this model will help audiologists compete in today’s marketplace.”

ADA member audiologists may pre-order earVenture hearing instruments through September 22nd at www.earventure.net (while supplies last). Other providers may register and order beginning September 23rd. A portion of the profits from each earVenture hearing aid will be used to support ADA advocacy initiatives that advance best practices and the audiology profession.

About earVenture
earVenture was founded in 2015 to deliver innovative resources and technology to audiologists, so that they can deliver exceptional value to their patients.

Our unique business model was developed by IntriCon, a globally recognized leader in the manufacture of high-quality, hearing instruments and components and the Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA), the leading national organization dedicated to autonomy and best clinical and business practices in audiology. earVenture recognizes the critical role that audiologists play in helping people to hear better. For this reason, earVenture does not advertise to consumers, nor does it allow its products to be sold over the counter or directly to consumers.

To discover value beyond the device, visit www.earventure.net.

ADA Requests DOL Rescission of Certification for IHS Apprenticeship Program
The International Hearing Society (IHS) recently announced that it has received certification, by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), for new National Guidelines for Apprenticeship Standards (National Guideline Standards) for the occupation of Hearing Aid Specialists.

The Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA), upon researching the program, discovered that the Standards of Apprenticeship submitted by IHS to the DOL contain a Description of the occupation of hearing aid specialist (HAS) within a Work Process Schedule that could encourage HAS apprentices and journey workers to perform services and procedures that are clearly outside the allowable scope of practice and licensure for services. The IHS apprenticeship program, if implemented in its current form, will harm consumers, apprentices and journey workers alike. ADA has therefore issued an official request to the Department of Labor asking the agency for, “rescission of the Approval and Certification of National Guidelines for Apprenticeship Standards Developed by the International Hearing Society for the Occupation of Hearing Aid Specialist (“the Certification” and “the Standards”). The Certification is No. C-2105-03 dated June 2, 2015.” View the full letter at www.audiologist.org.

The IHS apprenticeship program appears to be, at its core, a mechanism to expand the scope of practice for hearing aid specialists and is consistent with the IHS’ published model licensure act. As a tireless advocate for best practices in hearing healthcare, ADA will work diligently to ensure that the scope of practice and licensure requirements for hearing aid specialists and other providers are commensurate with their education and training.

ADA encourages its members to contact their state professional associations to make them aware of this important issue. ADA will also be contacting appropriate state agencies regarding the deficiencies and risks inherently posed by the IHS Standards of Apprenticeship.

ADA Opposes ‘Fit to Serve’ Legislation
In light of new information, regarding the perils of the IHS Apprenticeship Program, ADA now believes that the Veterans Hearing Aid Access and Assistance Act (also known in the audiology community as ‘Fit to Serve’), conceived and shepherded by IHS, is merely another mechanism for gaining federal recognition in order to improperly expand the scope of practice for hearing aid specialists.

Therefore, ADA, after careful consideration and a thorough investigation, announces its strong opposition to the Veterans Hearing Aid Access and Assistance Act (HR 353/S 564). We encourage ADA members to contact their legislators today to oppose this legislation.

ADA firmly believes that hearing aid specialists have the right to dispense hearing aids to veterans as is consistent with their current state defined scope of practice. We have no desire to unduly restrict their existing scope of practice. However, we will remain vigilant in our opposition to initiatives that could pose patient harm through unwarranted recognition and scope expansion by hearing aid specialists at the federal or state level.

Hearing aid specialists already have the right to be hired by the Veteran’s Administration (as Health Technicians) and to have veterans referred to them through the VA Contract Services and/or Fee Basis programs for the services that they are licensed to provide.

Based on information obtained by ADA, we do not view the Veterans Hearing Aid Access and Assistance Act as a pathway to better access to hearing healthcare for veterans, but rather as a pathway to support IHS’ goal for expanded scope of practice for hearing aid specialists, without additional training or education. Therefore, we urge you to contact your legislator to oppose the Veterans Hearing Aid Access and Assistance Act today!