PCAST, New Challenges, An Exciting Time To Be

Exciting Times To Be Alive

I was talking to my wife the other day about college kids, I said that this was such an exciting time. New communication platforms, revolutionary technological change, breakneck pace of innovation. Radical changes in norms, the breakdown of barriers to knowledge, it is an amazing time to be alive. It is an amazing thing to be immersed in innovation and the opportunities that it brings. Imagine being in college with a load of like-minded folk immersed in the joy of something that you want to do? So yup, I am a little envious of them. She said why do you say that with so much passion? It’s almost frightening how much things are changing around us.

I really do think that this may be the most exciting time in our history to be alive, I realise that each generation may well have thought that about their time. However the pace of technological innovation and change that we see today has never been equalled. The world has never been so connected, human beings, total strangers,  all across the planet can connect to each other in meaningful ways with ease. It also seems that there is a movement for change, a shared outlook, a realisation that things are broken and we need to fix them. However, this isn’t an idle movement, people are getting together in order that they can drive that change, not just for change sake, but to make things better.

Easier, Simpler, Faster, Better

I remember having a fantastic discussion with some people about banking, government, housing, society. The rules that exist for these things are outdated, they were set in a different time and they don’t really make a lot of sense now. Those things may well change, we are already seeing movement towards that all over the world. What we are seeing is  a movement to make things better for people, easier, simpler, faster, better.

Hearing Healthcare is No Different

Hearing healthcare is no different from any other sector or industry across the world, just as we are seeing huge disruption in healthcare itself, we will see the same in our sector. The disruption is driven by people’s needs and wants, the people we say that we wish to serve. They want things and there will be somebody willing to give it to them, I discussed this in a clearer manner in the article called Innovation Eradicating Mediocre.

The Reaction To PCAST

I have watched with interest the reaction to the PCAST saga, it was typical of everything that has gone before really. The overall reaction is oh woe is me, the stance in some camps is “We know what is good for you!” Hey lads, that is really going to work out for you…… Not! At best what you are doing is pushing your finger in the hole in the dam. A delaying action at most. At worst what you are doing is confirming to some that you are greedy people who want to secure your profits.

Shooting Ourselves in The Foot

I wrote an article just over two years ago asking Have We Shot Ourselves in The Foot?, the article discussed our complete ineptitude at putting ourselves at the very centre of hearing better, at the end of that article I said

The more I consider it, the more I think it may well be a possibility. The merging of technologies is moving hearing instruments from medical device technology towards consumer goods technology. This combined with our historical ineptitude at putting ourselves at the centre of the process of hearing well has encouraged this state of affairs. The questions are, what are we to do about it, should we do anything about it, can we do anything about it.

My answers are there are many strategies we can follow, I think we should, I fear that we can not. I am beginning to be of the belief that the future of our profession, like your brand,  is in the hands of the consumer. The consumer assisted and fuelled by evolving disruptive technology will have a large impact on the future of our profession.  We can’t stop the evolvement of disruptive technology, it will happen and it will directly affect our profession. The question is, what will we do in response to it? I think it is an imperative that we take every step possible to place ourselves at the centre of the process of hearing well. How do you plan to do it today?

Two years ago, but here we are still talking about it, with little or no clear strategy for doing anything about it. I mean the hearing aid manufacturers (the source of all evil, want your first-born child you know!) are actually doing more about putting hearing healthcare professionals at the centre of hearing better. Nearly every one of the large hearing aid manufacturers have shifted the focus on their websites from the products they supply to the journey to hearing better. It is a subtle change, but I for one have noticed, they have moved away from the product catalogue that once was, to a much more subtle strategy that includes the product in a smaller way.

So I am going to ask you again, how do you plan to do it?

Because you need to do it, you need to band together and work out clearly how hearing healthcare professionals can put themselves at the centre of hearing better. You need to convince consumers that they actually need you, paternal healthcare is dead, it will no longer work. You need to approach the healthcare consumer with collaborative healthcare, because that is what they want.

We Can Adapt or Get Run Over

It’s your choice, adapt to the disruptive innovation or simply be run over by it. The innovation is happening because your customers want and accept it. It just isn’t happening for happening sake. We can adapt our Practices, we can find a way to introduce these innovations into our Practices. In fact to do so would make the most sense for us.

Different Points Of View

It strikes me that there are two ways of looking at innovation and change, I suppose there always has been. I don’t see innovation or change as threatening, I see it as exciting, joyful, something to be embraced and celebrated. Others don’t meet it with as much excitement, in fact they view it with fear. I don’t think that the innovation that is occurring now around our profession and industry is something to be frightened of. I understand that much of it could be a challenge, but challenges aren’t necessarily a bad thing. We need to understand the innovation, embrace it, work out how we can use it, hell we need to see if we can make it better. Because in that way, we do put ourselves at the centre of hearing better.


About Geoffrey Cooling

Geoffrey Cooling is an Irish hearing care blogger and the author of The Little Book of Hearing Aids and Audiology Marketing in a Digital World. He has been involved in the Hearing Healthcare Profession since 2007 when he qualified as a hearing aid audiologist. He has worked in private practice and for a major hearing aid manufacturer. He has become recognised as an authority within the field of hearing care and hearing aids.

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