Country Hearing Care Media Release- ACCC Report

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“Issues around the sale of hearing aids. Consumer and clinician perspectives.” released on 3rd March 2017.
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Jane MacDonald, Senior Audiologist and Director at Country Hearing Care welcomes the release of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) report today on World Hearing Day regarding some of the unethical business practices patients encounter when considering purchasing hearing aids.

The report highlights concerns that commissions, incentives and other mechanisms are used to drive sales in hearing clinics and these can create a conflict with clinical independence, professional integrity and the clinician’s primary obligation to consumers.

“We also object to companies that provide financial incentives to General Practitioners for referrals. This practice is also rife within our profession.” Jane says.

“Self-regulation of the audiology profession means that our peak professional bodies have no influence over these unethical business models. Their Codes of Conduct and Codes of Ethics can only provide guidance to individual clinician members, and cannot directly police incentive programs and performance measures or other unethical business practices to ensure that they do not create a conflict between independent health care advice and sales. They cannot police the business owners enforcing these business arrangements on their audiologist and audiometrist employees.”

“Country Hearing Care strongly advocates for the regulation of the audiology profession under the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA)”, Jane says. “Why should our patients be offered any less protection than the patients of other healthcare professions who are regulated under APHRA? Low risk has been cited as a reason that self-regulation of our profession is sufficient. We believe the ACCC investigation has uncovered many examples of the health risk and financial risk to patients associated with such business practices. Many of our patients are elderly and vulnerable and should be afforded proper consumer protection, be it of healthcare advice or sales advice and they should not be financially exploited.”

Jane says “Country Hearing Care is proud to state that we are an independent clinic, with no business ties to hearing aid manufacturers. We do not provide financial incentives for referrals. We do not impose sales targets on the audiologists and audiometrists we employ. We believe the prescription of a hearing device should be based solely on the hearing needs of our patient. We do not pay commission to our audiologists and audiometrists and they are committed to providing patient-centred, independent hearing advice.”

“If you have any queries regarding this, I am happy to talk to you. I can be contacted on 5022 7333.”, says Jane.

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