What have we learnt about the resilience of the hearing care sector in this year of COVID-19?
BIHIMA analyzes the current pressure points of the pandemic and the learnings to be celebrated.
A silver lining of the closures experienced during the first lockdown is that the UK government now realises hearing care services are essential. Audiology support has been made available in subsequent lockdowns, ensuring thousands of people with hearing loss are now accessing hearing care.
Audiology clinics reopened at the end of 2021 and, despite hesitancy in patients to leave their homes, demand for hearing instruments has returned. This is in no small part to the excellent efforts of the manufactures and audiologists, who have worked together to deliver remote services in a safe way.
Advances in remote provision
Remote provision has made phenomenal advances in a short window of time. Advances that will have far reaching benefits for audiology services in the future.
The manufacturers’ priority at the start of the pandemic was to provide remote care safely to patients. Our members worked with audiologists to swiftly move the fitting, servicing, and supply of hearing instruments online. We saw impressive creativity and technology solutions that ensured the delivery of safe clinical services.
Managing pent-up demand for hearing instruments
As an industry we should be extremely proud of how hearing care has been made available to patients swiftly and safely. However, the fact remains that our audience is an older one; those most vulnerable to COVID-19 and those advised to shield. Despite the availability of services, many patients will have remained at home and not sought help.
We expect the demand for hearing instruments to continue to rise now the vaccination programme is well underway; a demand our manufacturers are ready to respond to.
Paul Surridge, BIHIMA Chairman, concludes: “Looking ahead I see a brighter future for our industry. One in which hearing care is seen as essential, where awareness of the impacts of isolation are recognised, and where technology advancements and remote support deliver an enhanced service to patients. As manufacturers our members will work closely with audiologists to manage the demand materialising post lock down. Our priority is to continue to provide hearing instruments in a safe environment to as many patients as possible, as we work together to revive our sector.”
Read Paul Surridge’s article on the state of the industry in the latest issue of Audio Infos, online here at Audiology World News.
BIHIMA represents the hearing instrument manufacturers of Britain and Ireland, working in partnership with other professional, trade, regulatory and consumer organisations within the health care and charitable sectors. We raise consumer awareness about the latest hearing technology and aim to influence government and policy makers to improve the lives of people with hearing difficulties.