The advent of over-the-counter hearing aids has loomed over the hearing industry for a few years now. With the day drawing ever nearer when clients can purchase their hearing aids at big-box retailers without visiting a hearing professional, many people feel negative about the future of the hearing industry. However, data shows that hearing healthcare is both relevant and important for the future.
The Effect of COVID-19 on the Hearing Industry
Of course, any statistics or data coming out of 2021 will bear the mark of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has adversely affected the healthcare sector as a whole. Voluntary surgeries and procedures have been frequently canceled and rescheduled in the past two years. Hospitals and other medical facilities also ran out of resources as thousands of COVID-19 patients required urgent care. In addition, hearing device sales declined by 18 percent in 2020.
However, some COVID-19 patients report sudden hearing loss following illness. These patients are expected to seek treatment for hearing loss, which may contribute to an upturn in the hearing industry. The World Health Organization reported in May 2021 that approximately 5 percent of COVID-19 survivors experience hearing loss, which may drive the demand for hearing aids this year and in the coming years.
Telehealth as an Emerging Trend
While the coronavirus pandemic contributed to a decline in the hearing industry in 2020, it wasn’t all bad news. The pandemic also drove a shift among health professionals, including hearing professionals, to adopt telehealth services. This allows patients to seek professional health care without visiting an office in person. Telehealth has proven to be an effective way to serve patients and boost business.
The Optimistic Future of the Hearing Industry
Although 2020 saw a decline in hearing device sales, data shows that sales began to steadily increase by the second half of 2021. Danish hearing company Demant, for example, experienced 27 percent organic growth in 2021. Demant and other hearing device companies expect to see continued growth in 2022.
One factor driving the growth of hearing device sales is the growing acceptance of the use of such devices. For years, hearing professionals have fought the stigma surrounding hearing aid use, particularly for hearing devices that are more noticeably visible when worn. Nowadays, hearing aids are smaller and more discreet than ever before. In addition, many hearing aids look similar to Bluetooth devices, which helps them appear more acceptable to a wider audience. Hearing aids also include new features—like Bluetooth connectivity, smartphone compatibility, artificial intelligence, rechargeable batteries, high sound processing, and tinnitus masking—that make them more appealing to patients.
Hearing professionals can expect to see the rising geriatric population contribute to the growth of the hearing industry. The number of infants born with sensorineural hearing loss has increased as well. Thanks to these population segments, growth is expected among both adult and pediatric patients.
While the advent of over-the-counter hearing aids will certainly lead to changes in the hearing industry, it by no means spells the end of professional services. For more information about the positive outlook of the hearing industry in coming years, we invite you to contact us today at AudiologyPlus. We are eager to help your business succeed.