Let Me Hear from You

Let Me Hear from You

Our Preferred Future

As I alluded to in the July/August issue of Audiology Today, for the past year, your board of directors and the Academy staff have been working on the future direction of the Academy and the profession. We used data and information from the most recent strategic plan and the results of the membership survey from the fall 2010. Based on this input, and valuable information we received from an external environmental scan (more on this later), we derived the four most central directions or "futures" for the Academy and the profession of audiology.

The environmental scan, which was conducted by the Forbes Group over a five-month period, allowed us to take the proverbial magnifying glass and look not only at ourselves but "us" as part of the real world, i.e., how does audiology—hearing and balance wellness, diagnosis and treatment, hearing conservation, and research—position itself for the "hear" and now and into the future?

The environmental scan process was illuminating. The scan implemented a STEEP process, i.e., an evaluation of the current (and predicted) sociodemographics, technology, economics, environmental, and political conditions that can and will influence the profession. This scan was an invaluable tool that allowed us to think more clearly and I think, more globally, as we looked to determine our strategic direction.

The four preferred futures are:

  1. Ensure that audiologists are known as the preferred healthcare provider for hearing and balance wellness. (PF1)
  2. Expand the availability and accessibility of hearing and balance care. (PF2)
  3. Achieve recognition of policymakers of the value of audiologists' full scope of practice. (PF3)
  4. Establish and promote exemplary standards in the provision of hearing and balance care. (PF4)

What does this all mean to you? Primarily, I want each member to eat, sleep, and drink this mindset of a preferred future for the profession and the Academy because when we do, then everything we do both professionally and personally will be tied to making these futures a reality. As I stated in my July/August column in AT, "We define for ourselves, our patients, our legislators, our regulators and the public, who we are exactly, what we do, and then the outcomes will take care of themselves." Those outcomes are our futures and the bottom line is that by producing the data, the evidence, the realities of what we do and the impact we have in the lives of individuals with hearing and balance issues, we define who we are.

Let me provide you with a few examples of outcomes for PF3 (Preferred Futures 3). Your board of directors convened recently for their quarterly meeting in Reston, VA, for two days on July 28 and 29 and on the morning of the 29th, we traveled to the Academy's Capitol Hill Office (CHO) to start our adventure to the "Hill" to meet with our duly elected representatives to obtain more co-sponsors on Direct Access legislation (H.R.2140).

Representatives Jason Altmire (D-PA) and Jim McGovern (D-MA) came to the CHO to speak with the board and provide us encouragement and guidance for our Hill visits. Both Congressmen were eloquent and passionate about the work they do on behalf of their constituents and they urged us to remain just as dedicated and engaged for our constituents: our patients.

Additionally, through years of dedication, hard work and bona fide outcomes, the Academy and the profession of audiology obtained a "seat at the table" at the AMA's CPT-HCPAC (American Medical Association's Current Procedural Terminology, Health Care Professional Advisory Committee). Our active and sustained participation in the coding and reimbursement process through the AMA process as well as with CMS resulted in this outcome and you can rest assured that the Academy will continue collaborative and fruitful discussion with all like-minded entities to ensure that audiologists are recognized (appropriately) by policymakers for their full scope of practice.

"It's time to fish or cut bait," my Grandmother Schweizer used to say. Our preferred future is now—we create it, we own it, we manage it. Period.