I CAN'T HEAR
It’s really nothing unusual for someone of my dotage. I turn the TV up, listen to the radio at a higher setting, try to get used to this ringing in my ears, and say “HUH?” to my wife a LOT. I remember the day I realized just how bad it actually was. We were going on vacation and were standing at the airline check-in desk. It was a busy travel day, lots of folks, lots of confusion. The airport PA was blaring, and the airline clerk was standing right in front of me giving me instructions. When she finished talking, I turned to my wife, looked her in the eye and said, “What did she say?” That earned me a major eye-roll, an explanation of where the clerk told us to go, and a lecture on how I needed to do something about my hearing.
What can I say? My wife was right. My hearing and accompanying tinnitus was not only impacting me it was impacting those around me. My wife had learned to speak loudly, but I missed a lot of what my grandkids said. I made an appointment with an audiologist, forty miles away, and got tested. Yep……hearing loss. I was diagnosed as moderate loss with accompanying tinnitus.
Recommended hearing aids $5,500.00. No insurance coverage, all out of pocket. That was several years ago and prices have gone up since then. How much better would it have been to be able to go back to the pharmacy, take a hearing test and get the same technology for a fraction of the cost. At least I would feel less guilty when I get caught not wearing them.
In 2017 the president signed a bill which redefined hearing aid technology as consumer electronics, not medical devices. The hope was to introduce hearing aids to a wider market by making them more available. It worked.
This is a new program, just the type of program that is usually directed only to pharmacy chains and mass merchandisers. Often the community pharmacy is shut out of this type of program until others have wrung out the market and we’re left with the dregs. Not this time!
ESPhA has secured access to this technology, including hearing screening tests, for community pharmacy. We can be first to the trough. There are only a few entries into this huge market now, and none of them know patient care from a hole in the ground. We have an opportunity to help our patients, save them some money, enhance our professional image, and even make a profit……Been a long time since we could do that.
Richard Logan, Jr. PharmD
Richard Logan, Jr. PharmD, community pharmacist, community pharmacy advocate, and ESPhA founding member