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Let Me Hear from You

Let Me Hear from You

So Many Choices, What's a Person to Do?

We have an independently recognized profession in the health-care arena that started within a shared discipline in the mid-1940s. Along the way, we developed a large collection of tests and instruments to measure auditory function and determine the site-of-lesion within the auditory system. The knowledge we have gained about auditory physiology has been incredible and continues to expand our capabilities and what we can contribute to the health-care team. The links between hearing loss and chronic health conditions continue to grow and increase our relevance in the health-care arena.

One of the things we have enjoyed as a profession is an independent thought process in our practices. Beyond the very basic test battery for hearing sensitivity, there are many variations in our practice patterns that result in difficulty demonstrating large-scale outcomes of what we do. As health-care reform evolves, we will become increasingly dependent on demonstration of the outcomes and value of our services. With so many choices and so many opportunities, whats a person to do? The Academy provides a growing list of best practice guidelines developed by our member subject-matter experts in a wide variety of clinical areas. One of the most recent of is the Pediatric Amplification Practice Guidelines. Watch for the availability of these guidelines by early July.

With the links among a growing list of chronic health conditions and hearing loss, an aging society, early identification of hearing loss, a focus on hearing and balance wellness, and prevention of hearing loss, the need for our services continues to expand. A number of audiologists will retire in the near future. Do we have enough audiologists entering the field to offset this number and expand the reach of our services? How will we recruit more audiologists? Will we need to make wider use of service extenders? Telepractice? Whats a person to do? The Academy has been involved with the National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions for several years and recently had member representatives spreading the word about the profession at the four affiliated regional meetings during the months of April and May. The Academy has ongoing efforts to explore and enhance the use of telepractice and other methods to expand the availability and accessibility of hearing and balance care.

Expanded reach of our services requires fair reimbursement as well as a thorough knowledge and understanding of compliance issues. With so many issues to keep up with, whats a person to do? The Academy has a number of eAudiology courses and resource materials to educate members on compliance, coding, and reimbursement issues. At the same time, the Academy continues to represent audiologists at the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) Health Care Professionals Advisory Committee Review Board (HCPAC) and is working hard to obtain a seat solely dedicated to the profession of Audiology at the Specialty Society Relative Value Scale Update Committee (RUC) HCPAC where relative work value recommendations for procedure codes are considered and made to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) as part of the agencys annual fee schedule update. Representation on these CPT and RUC Committees by qualified and knowledgeable audiology coding experts is critically important to equitable reimbursement for our services under Medicare. Further, these efforts often trickle down to impact the reimbursement levels of commercial payers as well.

The Academy develops an advocacy plan to achieve recognition by policymakers on the value of our full scope of practice. The Academy monitors and responds to regulatory and legislative issues that impact the practice of audiology. As a member, your involvement as a constituent of your elected officials is key. Please make regular visits to the Legislative Action Center to make sure you are up to date on current legislative initiatives and to ensure your profession is presented. Establish that audiology is at the table and our voice is heard with your regular PAC contributions[[[FIX]]].

Expanded services require outreach efforts and enhancement strategies to showcase and promote your business. The Academy provides a variety of resources in these areas along with a contemporary tool kit to assist you in navigating direct-to-consumer sales models. This tool kit is designed to help you address this evolving service delivery model in terms of managing and educating patients, billing, state legislative updates and actions to address issues inherent with these models.

As you can see, your Academy is hard at work to meet member needs in a multitude of arenas related to the audiology profession. We cannot afford to be singularly focused on one area or practice setting; rather we must remain focused on the profession at large. To move ahead, we must all work in a unified fashion as ambassadors of audiology regardless of our special interests or preferred practices. We cannot afford to divide our efforts in this critical time of health-care reform and the many opportunities presented.

As this is my final month as president, I wish to take the opportunity to thank you for the honor of serving our profession in this capacity and to acknowledge the fantastic Board of Directors, the multitude of committee/task force chairs and members for dedicating their volunteer time to the advancement of audiology. Your Academy is about you and dedicated to actions of, by, and for audiologists. We ended 2012 with 11,927 members focused on promoting quality hearing and balance care by advancing the audiology profession. Together, effort by effort, we will continue to move our profession to new frontiers.