BHI Screens Physician Hearing Loss at AAFP

October 10, 2008


Over a 3 day period at the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) in San Diego, 170 physicians, nurses and medical educators were given threshold hearing screenings using BHI's new teaching audiogram form. The hearing health professionals performing the screenings were: audiologists Dr. Dena Riso (Sonus) and Dr. Julie-Khoury-Ghaffary (Sonus); and hearing instrument specialists Elaine Boulware (Sonus), Collette Forshan (Sonus), Eileen Aguila (Miracle Ear) and Angeline Medawar (Miracle Ear).

In addition, 400 earplugs were given out (with the message: screen your patients) as well as 150 physician education packets consisting of the BHI booklet Your Guide to Better Hearing, two reprints of JAMA articles on the physician's role in hearing loss screening, the NCOA study on hearing aids and quality of life and a pad of our Quick Hearing Checks for use in their practice.

We used the earplugs as a teaching tool by asking them to attend a lecture or run their practice with the earplugs in their ears. The consequent 30 dB sound reduction clinically would amount to a "mild" hearing loss. Our message was that, even with this so-called "mild" loss, they would in fact find it quite difficult if not impossible to function. A number of doctors indicated they would use this sensitization method with their residents in training. We also demonstrated how in their practice they could use a hand-held hearing screener.

In talking with dozens of physicians at AAFP, only a minority currently perform hearing screenings during physical exams. Most physicians candidly stated that they needed a financial incentive to be motivated to perform hearing screenings. This is an area that needs to be investigated further if the hearing health professional is ever to enjoy a greater rate of referrals from physicians. In discussions with colleagues at AAFP there are divergent opinions on the ability of physicians to receive reimbursement for hearing screenings. This is an important topic that BHI will research and report on in the future.

Hearing Aid Tax Credit Update

In the five months since we launched www.hearingaidtaxcredit.org more than 17,000 letters have been received on Capitol Hill in support of tax credits for hearing aids. During this timeframe 29 representatives and 5 senators were influenced to sign on as co-sponsors to the tax credit bill.

Our syndicated NAPS article "Winning in Washington - Possible Financial Help for Hearing Aids?" has been published in 88 newspapers in 14 states reaching an audience of 5.5 million people. To see if it has been picked up in your community, go to the following link. Hearing health professionals can influence their local newspaper editors to publish this article by sharing the NAPS article or referring them to www.Napsnet.com.

BHI Publishes Article on the link between Diabetes and Hearing loss

This week the BHI released our article on the link between diabetes and hearing loss to the syndicated NewsUSA service. Hearing health professionals can influence their local newspaper to publish this article by sharing the NewsUSA article with their local editors. This is an excellent opportunity for hearing health professionals to elevate the importance of hearing health in their community outreach programs by demonstrating the link between hearing loss and diabetes and vision loss. In this article we recommend that all people with diabetes receive routine hearing loss screenings in addition to vision loss screenings.

BHI Publishes Platform on No Child Left Behind Due to Hearing loss

Emanating from our paper: MarkeTrak VII: Are 1 million dependents with hearing loss in America being left behind?, the BHI has published a 12 point platform calling for enhanced hearing healthcare for America's children with hearing loss.

We are in the process of recruiting a Pediatric Advisory Council to assist us in our long-term educational efforts with the media on these issues. Deidre Down, Miss America 2005 and pediatrician-in-training, has agreed to be the BHI ambassador on children's issues.

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