Finding Our Voice

Author: Bruce Vircks, Au.D.

The political unrest in the Middle East is exposing the world to the lack of human and political rights of so many. The movements, enabled and revealed by an American invention, the social network, have helped so many find a voice and overcome decades of tyrannical rule. They risk their lives to achieve a fraction of the freedom and democracy that we hold so dear.

Here in the states, Wisconsin government workers gathered in my hometown of Madison, Wisconsin to retain the voice that they have worked long and hard to achieve in the form of collective bargaining rights. The activity in Madison as sparked a national dialogue about unions, workers rights and how they relate to strapped state budgets.

In our profession of audiology, we still struggle to come together and project a unified voice that will move us into the position of gatekeeper for hearing and balance services with independent access to all forms of insurance and reimbursement. It’s a matter of professional respect and sustainability. We missed our opportunity last year in terms of direct access and the hearing aid tax credit. Now, with the battle over the budget deficit, health care reform and the run up to the 2012 presidential election, I fear we will have a challenge in making progress with legislation, even if we can agree on our approach. ADA and AAA continue to support the direct access legislation that received considerable support in the last congress. ASHA has decided to pursue a comprehensive coverage bill, not yet drafted, so the profession is again split and will likely gain little in this congress. The hearing aid tax credit has a chance if we can get the attention of legislators.

Despite the legislative disagreements and delays, at least private practice audiology has found a voice in ADA and our journal, Audiology Practices, speaking through our new editor, Brian Taylor, Au.D. In this issue, consistent with our 2011 Convention theme, Rock the Boat, How to Practice, Manage and Lead in Rough Waters, Robert Wabler writes about how to manage cash flow and maintain profitability in this tough economy to avoid “danger zones” that can lead to bankruptcy.

Following that is an encouraging article by Martin Zwilling on writing your business plan; you know the saying, failing to plan is planning to fail. For inspiration, read the Q & A about Dr. Ross & Jen Cushing’s practice in Baltimore. Let’s see, what did I forget? Of course, like many providers, I forgot to use one of those easy, convenient hearing handicap questionnaires in my pre-fitting appointment. You’ll remember why we use them after reading Paul Teie’s article. Michael Brown illuminates some of the mysteries inside the “black box” in hearing technology, how to verify feature performance and prevent unexpected negative consequences to improve our fittings. In his second article, Marcus Hilbert helps you to find your practice’s voice on the web through website optimization and using social networking sites. Kim Cavitt collaberates with AAA and ASHA to answer some FAQs about Medicare based on current regulations, and our editor contributes some good questions for all of us to ask ourselves about how we manage our practices.

So there it is, this quarter’s voice of private practice audiology, one of the many benefits of your membership in ADA, the greatest audiology organization on land or sea! So come about and hoist your sails into a prosperous year.