ida institute future hearing journeys

Exploring the hearing journeys of the future

By Helle Gjønnes Møller

Imagine a world where audiologists are not involved in diagnostics or assessments. A world where AI and over-the-counter delivery models have taken over and hearing care professionals are doing online counseling only. What are the implications for people with hearing loss? Will they have access to the care they need? 

To examine such questions and explore the trends that will affect hearing care in the coming years, the Ida Institute is launching Future Hearing Journeys – an innovation project dedicated to helping hearing care professionals and people with hearing loss navigate the changing landscape in audiology. 

A watershed moment

Audiology is currently undergoing a major disruption sparked by trends such as digitalization and changing consumer preferences. As the demographic is shifting and the number of digital natives in the hearing aid marketplace is growing, there is a steady increase in e-shopping, consumer electronics, and multi-functional technology. 

Meanwhile, the patient role is shifting from passive recipient of health care to empowered consumer, introducing trends such as self-determination, self-fitting, and on-demand care. And with COVID unexpectedly accelerating events – creating an acute need for no-touch, remote care – hearing health finds itself propelled into uncharted territory. 

For some, this change brings anxiety and concern, for others excitement and optimism. Ida Advisory Board member DeWet Swanepoel says: “It’s a watershed moment. Many practices will struggle during this time. But there is also opportunity for us to reassess and rethink the way audiology has been provided in the past.”

Harvey Abrams, Head of Audiology Research at Lively, similarly predicts: “COVID has taken us into the future, temporarily at least. Traumatic for some but a world of possibilities for people who have been waiting for a change to the status quo. This will push more audiologists and patients to remote care. Audiologists will need to reeducate and reinvest. And they will need support.”

Future Hearing Journeys

The Future Hearing Journeys project aims to do just that – provide support for professionals and people with hearing loss in this complex landscape. In the project, Ida will be working with the Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies, among others, to investigate current megatrends at a societal level and then examine how those affect healthcare and audiology specifically. Through a combination of surveys, interviews, and focus groups, the Future Hearing Journeys project will gather insights and evidence from key actors across hearing healthcare, including hearing care professionals, people with hearing loss, advocacy groups, industry representatives, academics, and other stakeholders. 

After analyzing the gathered insights, the results will be discussed with the Ida Institute Advisory Board, partners, and other thought leaders in regional online meetings, and we will then sketch worst/best case scenarios and predict how those might impact user needs, delivery models, and access to person-centered care. Based on the synthesized insights and data, the Ida Institute will develop resources to help hearing care professionals and people with hearing loss navigate this new environment. 

Lise Lotte Bundesen says: “By assessing the changes in the field and following conversations with various key actors, we identified a need for some sort of guidance or compass to navigate this rapidly changing landscape. And that is what we hope to provide through Future Hearing Journeys. We are thrilled to see the interest that the project is gaining already – and hope that as many people as possible will get involved and tell us what they think.”  

We invite everyone in hearing healthcare to join the journey and share their insights. If you are a hearing care professional, a researcher, or a person with hearing loss, we would love to hear from you. Please take a few minutes to fill out this survey.