Unison Hearing Health Global Summit Designed to Bring Forward Best Practices and Innovation Across Providers, Across Continuum

The Hearing Healthcare Education Coalition (HHEC) recently announced the creation of the Unison Hearing Health Global Summit (Unison), an innovative forum and educational experience that will bring together audiologists, hearing aid specialists, physicians and other providers, along with industry and consumer representatives for the purpose of ensuring best practices in the delivery of optimal, outcome-based hearing health solutions.

Unison is designed for multi-organizational collaboration and participation, and encourages representation from all stakeholders. To date, Unison’s founding partners include the Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA) and the International Hearing Society (IHS). The Hearing Industries Association (HIA) has signed on as an endorsing sponsor. “The genesis for the Unison Hearing Health Global Summit is the recognition that the entire healthcare landscape is shifting and yesterday’s models of care will not effectively serve the patients of tomorrow,” said ADA President Kim Cavitt, Au.D. “There are 40 million people in the United States right now suffering from hearing loss, and only 25,000 audiologists and hearing aid specialists combined. It is time to create a learning and networking environment that brings together all stakeholders and providers—only then will we be able to cultivate sustainable solutions that optimize patient outcomes and advance our professional goals.”

The inaugural Unison Hearing Health Global Summit will be held September 8-11, 2016 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. Beginning in 2016, both IHS and ADA have committed to forgo their individual annual conventions, and will instead hold their respective membership meetings and networking activities in conjunction with the Unison Summit.

“Unison provides an unprecedented opportunity to change the footprint of hearing healthcare education by engaging in deeper conversations and learning opportunities across providers, across the globe and across the continuum of care,” said IHS President Scott Beall, Au.D., CCC-A, ACA, BC-HIS. “Leveraging our resources towards that great end will help achieve true innovations in care and ensure the excellent coordination of care.”

The preliminary agenda is scheduled for release in fall 2015, and course proposals will also be accepted at that time. HIA Immediate Past Chair Todd Murray provided the manufacturing sector’s endorsement of the Hearing Healthcare Education Coalition and the “Unison” initiative, noting “HIA and its manufacturing members support programs that enhance the continued excellence of our dispensing customers and efficiently focus our collective resources to expand consumer benefit. We believe this effort meets those criteria, we applaud ADA and IHS for their work, and collectively, we support them and expect success.”

FAQs about the Unison Hearing Health Global Summit
What is the Unison Hearing Health Global Summit?
The Unison Hearing Health Global Summit is an innovative forum and educational experience that will bring together audiologists, hearing aid specialists, physicians and other providers, along with industry and consumer representatives for the purpose of ensuring best practices in the delivery of optimal, outcome-based hearing health solutions. It will feature unmatched opportunities for knowledge-transfer and networking for every stakeholder engaged in hearing health. Please visit www.unisonsummit.org for more information.

Are ADA and IHS merging to form a single association as part of Unison?
No. IHS and ADA will remain separate and distinct organizations. Each organization represents a unique membership body and carries a different mission, none of which will be in any way impacted by the Unison collaboration.

The Unison Hearing Health Global Summit is designed to bring together perspectives from a wide range of organizations and stakeholders from across the hearing health landscape and continuum of care for the purpose of creating a learning environment that fosters best practices and innovation.

Both ADA and IHS recognize that conferences are a small fraction of the work that an organization undertakes on behalf of its membership—Unison is designed to deliver an educational conference experience that is exceptional and transcends organizational boundaries.

Why is ADA/IHS participating in Unison?
ADA: Unison supports ADA’s mission to advance practitioner excellence, high ethical standards, professional autonomy and sound business practices in the provision of quality audiologic care. ADA is committed to ensuring that ADA members will have the knowledge, skills and resources necessary to achieve an ownership position in professional practices now and in the future--and that ADA members will have continuing access to the information, education and relationships that reflect and support best clinical and business practices.

There is no better method or mechanism for this than by engaging in a global dialogue that includes all stakeholders and leverages resources to ensure exceptional educational programming and networking opportunities with the recognized thought leaders in audiology and the entire hearing healthcare industry.

IHS: Education is the foundation that built IHS more than 60 years ago and is the same driving force behind collaboration with partners such as ADA and our participation in Unison. Over the past five years IHS has spent considerable time, and money, investing in programs to ensure competency of new professionals looking to enter the dispensing profession, and it only seems fitting that we would be one the founding partners in this exciting new venture.

As an International organization, IHS is committed to global excellence and supporting its members in nearly 40 countries. We have learned from our international members, and those who come to IHS seeking help with education in areas that have limited licensure and regulations, that the need for standards in education goes far beyond the reach of any one association. Unison removes barriers and creates an ideal backdrop for sharing best practices, disseminating knowledge across professions, and building relationships that support the betterment for individuals with hearing loss.

Both ADA and IHS also acknowledge that by leveraging our intellectual and financial resources with other Unison partners, we can enhance the attendee experience, while mitigating financial risk. Hearing industry consolidation over the past decade has reduced the pool of available conference exhibitors and sponsors. The Unison Summit will be markedly more attractive to potential sponsors and exhibitors than any smaller stand-alone event.

What does it mean for me as an ADA/IHS member?
Your membership in IHS/ADA has never been more important—and your membership benefits will not diminish as a result of the unprecedented opportunity that Unison provides. Both ADA and IHS members will receive discounted registration to the Unison Hearing Health Global Summit, during which time each organization will hold its individual member business meeting and other member activities. Participating in the Unison Summit offers ADA/IHS members unrivaled opportunities for education and networking, while preserving the IHS/ADA-only components that members value most (like the IHS Awards Gala and the ADA Student Business Plan Competition).

Will the “Unison” collaboration create conflict?
Unison is a completely new and never-before executed event. It is not tied to any single organization, agenda or interest. Instead, it will leverage the insight and expertise from every provider segment as well as industry and consumer representatives in order to develop an educational and networking experience that is transformative--that offers practical, usable and outcome-oriented tools, resources and knowledge. There will likely be diverse opinions discussed at the Unison Summit—and there may be some conflicting viewpoints represented on certain issues. However, thoughtful debate is one of the best ways to test best practices and foster innovation.

Both audiologists and hearing aid specialists play important (though different) roles in hearing health, as do physicians, consumers and industry partners. There are 40 million people in the United States right now suffering from hearing loss, and that number is only going to grow as 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 each day. There are not nearly enough providers to treat the hearing loss pandemic—it is best for the patient and all professions for us to find ways to collaborate on common goals and for the common good.

At a micro level many hearing aid specialists, physicians and audiologists are working together on a daily basis to improve the quality of life for those with hearing loss. In recent years, ADA and IHS have partnered with each other and many other organizations to advance issues like raising awareness about the importance of legislation that would provide a Hearing Aid Tax Credit, the risks of do-it-yourself hearing healthcare including direct-to-consumer hearing aid sales and the illegal marketing of PSAPs. We are very pleased to continue this longstanding collaboration in order to make the Unison Hearing Health Global Summit a reality. We hope to see you there!