Technology Levels, Ethics In Hearing Healthcare

Being ethical in the recommendation of hearing instruments

By Geoffrey Cooling

English: Image illustrating the different type...

An interesting recent debate was sparked by an article in the Hearing journal. The article as many of you will know centred on ethics within our profession. It also questioned technology levels of instrumentation and the ethical quandary the author felt was presented by them. It was interesting to see the debate go back and forward across the web.

I think that some really earnest people would wish to give the best technology to every Patient every time. Whilst in an ideal world that may be possible, we need to face reality. The reality is simply that there are costs involved in the provision of hearing instruments. The reality is that we and our families need to eat. Even in the public health service, where care for Patients is enshrined, the best technology is not utilised. Instead they simply use the best technology that can be afforded.

One Single Technology Level

Somebody raised the point that the manufacturers should just make one level of technology. It could then be reasonably priced and fitted to everyone. What if a manufacturer undertook such an audacious scheme. It would simply put its Uber product out of the financial reach of millions of people. Do you think this would be a good thing? How long before the people who called for such a thing would be attacking the manufacturer?

So what can we do:

Ensure we supply the most modern technology available at every level at a fair price.Tweet this

Discuss all the levels of hearing technology available and explain how they fit into their lifestyle.Tweet this 

Allow the Patient to make the decision when it comes to their hearing needs.Tweet this

A colleague of mine summed it up for me, it is not for us to decide what level of technology a Patient wants. It is merely up to us to present the options as clearly and as honestly as we can, in order that they can make the best informed decision. It is a speech I never forgot and a creed I have practised by for many years.

In an ideal world, we would give all our Patients top level technology, oh and there would be world peace an end of hunger and poverty would cease to exist. We may strive for these things and not to do so would be morally corrupt. However, we also need to face the reality of the situation, again doing so honestly and fairly does not damage our ethics.



Enhanced by Zemanta

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.


  1. You make the presumption that the most modern technology must be the ‘best’ but surely that is not always true for all clients is it? I.e. you buy into the manufacturer’s sales before applying any ethics of your own to your sales…then hope that they are ‘ethical’.

  2. What sounds good in theory doesn’t always work in reality. In what other industry do they offer one single technology level? Walk into any Best Buy or other electronics store and you’ll see varying levels of technology based on the “Good, Better, Best” scenario for just about everything they sell, especially computers, which is what compares most closely to hearing aids. In a thread similar to this one professional touted the medical aspect of what we do, in that a surgeon doesn’t offer lower levels of performance when it comes to surgery (and yet, having had direct experience with surgeons, even this claim isn’t true). While we like to elevate ourselves to the medical physicians, we are by no means surgeons where the difference can mean life or death. We sell a product that, while proven to improve quality of life for those who need it, is often seen as optional or elective, more comparable to a nose job than to heart surgery. And, for sure, it is a product that we sell. We all try to do the best job we can for what the patient is willing to pay for, and we should be happy with that. What’s missing in this discussion is the fact that what the manufacturer develops is intellectual property, and what they are willing to give us access to we pay for in pieces, from entry level to top of the line. The entire concern that we are somehow violating ethical boundaries by fitting them with anything less than the best is a bit ridiculous in an age of technology, where even at McDonald’s you have a value menu side-by-side with their “Premium” chicken sandwiches.

    • Scot, I think you are spot on. Once we do our level best, offer good and honest advice, cover all the options. We are in essence undertaking best practice.

Let me know what you think

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.