By Dawn Hulthen Koncsol This article is a part of the September/October 2019, Volume 31, Number 5, Audiology Today issue. Audiology services and provisions are changing following the passage of the over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aid legislation. In the end, what that will actually mean is still unclear. Likely, we will see a device that can manage mild hearing loss for patients and give them some options for their hearing health care. Those of us who have practiced for many years are still trying to decide how that will fit into our current practice model and whether to incorporate an OTC product in the clinic. In an article in Health Affairs, Nicholas R. Reed, AuD, a faculty member at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, discussed what may occur after the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017 will allow people to buy hearing aids directly from FDA-approved manufacturers (Willink et al, 2019). “Probably that will make hearing aids more affordable,” Reed said in a statement about the article. “But it won't affect the barriers to accessing hearing-care services, which generally need to optimize the function of these devices. Most people, if you put two hearing aids in their hand, will have little idea of what to do with them.” Looking Toward the Future This change in the hearing health-care landscape has launched a significant number of articles, information, and editorials on what the future of audiology services can and should be. For those whose primary source of practice income is focused on hearing aid dispensation, there is a need to review expanding services and options. For some, this may mean earning a certificate in a new area of specialty, such as tinnitus, to provide more services for patients. For others, it may mean expanding diagnostic services such as auditory-processing testing or electrophysiology. “Audiologists now have the unique opportunity to place a value on the service component of amplification, regardless of where products are purchased,” Alicia Spoor, AuD, wrote in an October 2018 editorial in The Hearing Journal. “The introduction of OTC hearing devices may promote hearing health care across the country in a more meaningful way” (Spoor, 2018). This content is an exclusive benefit for American Academy of Audiology members. If you're a member, log in and you'll get immediate access. Member Login If you're not yet a member, you'll be interested to know that joining not only gives you access to top-notch resources like this one, but also invitations to member-only events, inclusion in the member directory, participation in professional forums, and access to patient resources, tools, and continuing education. Join today!