Ten Years of Ida: An Interview with Director Lise Lotte Bundesen

By Amanda Farah Cox

September 1st marks ten years since founding managing director, Lise Lotte Bundesen, began building the Ida Institute. Since then, the institute has worked to integrate person-centered care into audiology by developing tools and educational resources, and by mobilizing a community of over 12,000 members worldwide. As self-reflection is at the core of Ida’s ethos, we asked Lise Lotte to look back at the last ten years and what progress Ida has made in that time, what challenges the organization has come up against, and where she sees Ida and person-centered care in the future.

How did you decide that person-centered care would be Ida’s mission?

My first trip into the world of audiology was in November 2007, when I went to the British Academy of Audiology’s annual conference. I went to lots of presentations and looked at the exhibitions, and most of what I saw was about optimization and efficiency. It was about how to get the most people through the system and not anything about how they were going through the system. I was just thinking, “Something’s wrong here.”

I started talking to people and it became clearer and clearer to me that there was no focus on the patients as whole individuals but just as a pair of ears. There were people working with patient-centered care, but that wasn’t the main focus of the healthcare systems.

At the same time, I realized that whatever the Ida Institute was going to do, it had to be based on collaboration with hearing care professionals. We had to look at the needs and perspectives of the different stakeholders and see where we could make a difference.

What are you most proud of?

Starting from nothing to becoming an internationally respected organization within the field is quite an accomplishment. During that time we have also been instrumental in putting person-centered care on the agenda.

The networks that we have built during and after our seminars have been very valuable, not just for us but for hearing care professionals in general. The collaborations that have followed from that, also among members of our network, have been key to our success. As one of our collaborators, Christopher Lind, recently wrote in his anniversary greetings to us, we have enabled many like-minded people to meet, and this has created a long comet tail of international cooperation on research and clinical activity.

The tangible result of all these different collaborations is the extensive portfolio of tools and materials that we offer to hearing care professionals and people with hearing loss today. Sometimes I have asked myself the question:  What is the impact of all this? These last couple of weeks we have received a number of anniversary greetings from Ida fellows around the world. Some have told us that we have bridged the gap between theory and practice and that we have managed to inspire and transform the field of hearing care. Others have emphasized how our work has changed the way they practice and has had a lasting impact on their careers. I am extremely grateful for these greetings, and I am also quite humbled by them. It gives me a deep sense of satisfaction and pause for reflection to think that we have influenced lives this way.

What have been the biggest challenges?

In the beginning, it was trying to figure out exactly what we were going to do. How could we establish credibility and how we could make a real difference? Which were the needs we could help fulfill?

Getting the first Advisory Board members to commit and lend us their credibility, and getting participants to come for the first seminar. Those were challenges in the beginning because we had just been established and nobody knew us, so why would they spend time working with us?

As a small organization, we are very dependent on people. Ensuring that we have the right people on the team and creating a sense of security for our staff have always been a high priority. Sometimes when a staff member who has been very influential leaves, it means that things change. This has created challenges, but I’ve found over time that these can also be a good thing, because the changes help prevent us from getting stuck.

Do you worry about getting stuck?

Maintaining the ability to renew ourselves is something that I pay close attention to. It’s about finding that balance between keeping a focus on what it is that we’re here for, while continuing to assess new needs in the field we’re working in and develop new initiatives. Our Vision 2020 project, which among other things led to the development of our telehealth platform, Ida Telecare, is a good example of how the identification of new trends has inspired our work.

We always strive to be at the forefront, while keeping our purpose in mind and not be tempted to become something completely different. There’s always so many more things that we could do, but with a staff of nine people, we have to be good at prioritizing.

Where do you see Ida in the next 10 years?

Predicting the future is always difficult and today more than ever. While we are mostly used to incremental changes, I think that the changes in coming years will be exponential . What we are seeing now with deregulation in the US and over-the-counter sales to the emergence of telehealth is only be the beginning.

Maybe we will see the stigma about wearing hearing aids be diminished. Frank Lin said some years ago that the stigma will go away when hearing aids can do all kinds of other things than just improve your hearing. I think we are on the cusp of that, and that many people will not be so worried about wearing hearing aids, because they will have all kinds of other practical purposes. The role of artificial intelligence and deep machine learning will be interesting to follow.

Just looking at our main area of work, I’m hoping this could be the decade of person-centered care. Last year the reports from the National Academies of Science and the NHS Action Plan on Hearing Loss put a strong focus on putting the patient in the center. There is definitely an awareness in the big healthcare systems now that person-centered creates the best outcomes.

I hope that person-centered care will be integrated into all university programs, in all training for audiologists, not just as an add-on, but as an essential part of education and training.

Ida will continue to address the needs of people with hearing loss. How can we improve the patient journey? How can we help professionals help their patients in the best possible way? How can we really try to be ahead of what’s coming? At our next seminar we will bring together people with hearing loss, clinicians and patient organizations for the first time. The hope is that this new collaboration will help find new ways of identifying needs and achieving insights that can inform the development of new resources and help put people at the center of their own care.

So there are many interesting avenues for Ida in the coming years. I’m very grateful to the Oticon Foundation for continuing to fund the Ida Institute for the benefit of the greater good, and I feel a great responsibility for us to deliver something that can make a true difference for the audiological profession in the coming years.