Not Enough Audiologists
Some 8 million people in the United States own hearing aids, which represents about 23 percent of the 34.25 million people in the United States with hearing loss (Kochkin, 2009). Freeman (2009) notes that even in countries where hearing aids are provided at no charge to citizens, market penetration doesn't exceed 40 percent of the potential. Therefore, he argues, that the actual maximum market potential in the United States likely hovers around 12 to 14 million candidates, and respectively, if that's the case, we have achieved 60 to 65 percent market penetration in the United States.
Freeman cites multiple studies that clearly demonstrate the most often cited factors in successful hearing aid fittings includes the professional and their expertise. However, Freeman cautions, due to the current and ever-increasing shortage of audiologists, audiologists must act now to meet the demand, or less desirable alternatives may soon be designed and incorporated by others.
He estimates there are some 9,050 hearing instrument specialists in the United States and some 12,876 licensed audiologists in the United States (working full time). However, although 5,500 new audiologists will graduate in the next decade, some 6,000 will reach retirement age--and this will occur while demand for professional hearing services increases.
Therefore, Freeman advocates filling in the gap with audiology assistants across the United States much like dentistry and optometry have done to meet their increasing demand for excellent service delivery, consistent with the Academy's (2006) Position Statement on Audiology Assistants.
For More Information, References, and Recommendations
Freeman B. (2009) The Coming Crisis in Audiology. Audiology Today 21(6):46-52.
Kochkin S. (2009) Marke Trak VIII: @5 Year Trends in Hearing Health Market. Hearing Review, . https://www.hearingreview.com/issues/articles/2009-10_01.asp.