Let Me Hear from You
The Eye of the Storm
Okay, it was not even Halloween and Mother Nature played tricks on us! “Snowtober” is what the Weather Channel called it—snows of historic proportions caused flights to be canceled and delayed, power outages for millions, and downed trees everywhere due to the heavy, wet snow falling on trees whose leave have not yet fallen! The pictures of this snow event are mind-boggling; the size of the storm immense—almost too much to fathom. However, the October snow will melt and there will be spring again.
Also in October, your Board of Directors met in Reston, VA (during National Audiology Awareness Month and National Protect Your Hearing Month) and it is my distinct pleasure to provide a recap. To begin, I can attest that the audiologists you elected to the board are dedicated to advancing the profession of audiology and are extremely loyal to the Academy and its members. Additionally, the Academy staff was prepared and professional as they worked alongside the volunteer leaders to address the items on the comprehensive agenda. During this two-day meeting, we addressed issues facing our profession—always with a focus on our Preferred Futures, through dialogue that was intense, respectful, open, and frank. Here are just a few highlights:
GOVERNANCE (Continuing Board Education)
We considered several scenarios that board members might encounter professionally and/or personally and discussed how implied endorsement and apparent authority should be addressed. As volunteer, elected leaders of the Academy, professional decisions each of us make may be interpreted as Academy policy or position. Our discussions and ongoing education in the area of association governance is critical to ensure that we act in the best interest of the Academy and its membership. On a related note, be sure to read board member Erin Miller’s article “Understanding Antitrust: What Members Need to Know” in the upcoming Nov/Dec 2011 issue of Audiology Today.
MEGA ISSUES (Broad/global topics that impact us internally and externally)
Not only did October slam many of us with unexpected, early winter weather, there was a plethora of seemingly adverse professional information from the Internet—specifically the announcement by United Healthcare that hi Health Innovations, a subsidiary of UHC, was planning to offer online hearing tests and hearing aids—with a hard sell to the Medicare Advantage subscribers. And we learned about Best Buy and other online hearing aid options. So, not surprisingly, our #1 mega Issue discussion was: Internet and mail order hearing aids and alternative delivery systems. Recall that one of our Preferred Futures addresses the need to evaluate our current business model, with the goal being to ensure audiologists are the preferred healthcare provider for hearing and balance wellness. The board considered the variety of ways consumers can currently access hearing aids and hearing care. We also reviewed all of the information that was available on the UHC announcement to determine the best approach to address this “storm.” Our response will be a multipronged approach so watch your e-mail and our Web site for more information on this mega issue.
No less important, our second mega Issue focused on audiology assistants—again in line with our Preferred Futures to determine how assistants will be integrated with our goal to expand the availability and accessibility of hearing and balance care. This is a huge issue that will impact current and future service delivery models. The board considered current practices as well as state licensure/registration for audiology assistants. We’ve asked the Membership Committee to conduct further research about integration and make recommendations to the board.
ASSESS/ADJUST STRATEGY (Review of current and future resources)
Having tasked the professional staff at our September board conference call to review our current committee structure and its sustainability, the board considered the draft recommendations. There were many good ideas that will allow for greater efficiencies within Academy committees. These recommendations will be further vetted as part of the FY12 mid-year committee review that occurs in January and February.
POLICY (Implementation of plans and guidance)
The board addressed the various reports/motions put forth from our hard-working committees and task forces. Actions/outcomes from committees and task forces drive how we function as a volunteer membership organization. A noteworthy motion came from the Finance Committee, charged with stewarding the Academy’s resources. The board accepted the Project/Initiative Needs Assessment concept as the vetting tool for new and existing projects and program to ensure that our hard-earned resources are used efficiently and always with the Preferred Futures in mind.
Although difficult to summarize, know that your board is working hard to advance the profession of audiology. Our goal is not to be first…our goal is to be the best and we will achieve this with a calculated, thoughtful and informed approach to all of the “storms” that come our way. We are all in this together.