Audiology today is not just about the science of hearing health. It should not be solely about hearing devices and the latest technology. It should not be about who can attract the largest portion of the market share, those individuals who suffer from hearing impairment, balance issues, tinnitus and of course, many vulnerable older persons who present with more than just sensory loss. Savvy Audiology hopes to see a shift so that the focus of every audiology business becomes the person. No one person who enters an audiology clinic has the same needs as the next. Certainly there are common challenges faced by hearing impaired individuals, such as having trouble hearing speech in a noisy environment or being able to enjoy the subtle nuances of music as once before. The beauty of technological advances such as Bluetooth, Rechargeable devices, TV streamers and Hearables such as IQ Buds all add a wonderful variety of options for individuals to help manage hearing impairment and its associated consequences. Audiology has become a profitable business for so many people who are not audiologists.

Competition in the market is always a good thing and offers consumers choice. A problem however, within the hearing healthcare industry, is that consumers are not always able to make informed choices about the multitude of options on offer. Would someone purchase a new car without first looking, test driving and comparing prices? A good salesperson can sell anything. A good marketing department can design a sizzling campaign that allures all who experience it. To run a successful audiology business requires business acumen and knowledge about the market, the competition, advances in hearing technology and people skills, the ability to organise and manage the day to day issues encountered by clinical and administrative staff. So in this paradigm, where does the client sit – at the top, in the middle or elsewhere? Savvy Audiology proposes that the business design needs to place the client at the centre.

Our latest Savvy Insight article refers to a webinar designed for audiologists concerning the emotional and mental health of clients who are seen in audiology clinics. The article alludes to the importance of educating the public and encouraging them to include hearing as a part of overall health. The business model used frequently today by many hearing health businesses is conducting a hearing screen to a passerby. Whether or not the screening identifies any hearing loss is irrelevant, with the majority of people being referred on for a full assessment by an audiologist or audiometrist. As stated, education and encouragement of prioritising hearing health is fully supported but is this ‘screening business model’ a person- centred approach, focusing on the needs of the individual? Or is it a quick marketing tool used to engage more clients into the business?

Being responsive to an ageing population means all those involved in optimising health outcomes for this group need to be aware of, educated about and regularly updated through professional development activities to ensure vulnerable older adults receive optimal care and possible necessary referrals for healthcare intervention. The focus is so often on what the technology can do for the individual and less often on what the client needs medically, physically, emotionally and/or psychologically to enjoy improved quality of life. Person centred care places the person at the centre.