This unscheduled president’s message is an urgent call to action.
There are several issues that have surfaced that have the potential to impact all of us as audiologists:
- Final over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aid regulations are anticipated any day. The proposed deadline has come and gone, but the Academy is closely monitoring the situation and will notify our members as soon as the final rule is released. We have a taskforce of experts at the ready to review the regulations and to develop various communications in the days and weeks after the rule release to inform our members so you are prepared. In the meantime, please access our OTC resources.
- The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has released a proposed rule for the CY23 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) that suggests the introduction of an opportunity for limited direct access to audiology for Medicare beneficiaries. The creation of a new code to use with direct access is not fully understood and may have potentially undesirable implications for audiologists. AAA, ADA, and ASHA met jointly with CMS this week to address potential concerns, ask important questions, and learn how to best influence key stakeholders to optimize the outcome for audiologists. The comment period closes in September, and the Academy has a stellar team of content experts to drive our information-seeking and analysis efforts to shape our response. We will continue to use our leverage to represent your best interests and inform you about any potential implications for your practice.
As important as these issues are for our profession, the urgency of this message is primarily regarding a third issue.
- Our ability to practice effectively in the future is not based solely on a product or a payment system. The greater threat to the future of audiology is when we don’t function as a team. How to face these changes and challenges together as a powerful, mission-oriented, unified profession is the issue that demands our immediate and undivided attention.
During the nearly five years I have had the privilege of spending on the Academy board over two terms, I have seen firsthand the dedication and commitment of Academy staff and volunteers to advancing the future of our profession. We have prioritized proactive anticipation and nimble responsiveness. In recent years, ASHA, ADA, and AAA have collaborated to influence issues that have broad-reaching impact on our members.
We have committed to becoming a Team of Teams whenever possible, recognizing that one consistent, unified voice is imminently more powerful and carries further than individual and competing voices. More recently, the Academy has sought other opportunities for partnerships and alignment, including submitting a joint response with AAO-HNS to CMS’s proposed update to cochlear implant coverage determination and collaborating with other professional organizations on policy issues of common interest.
Despite these successes, and regardless of our effort to keep the members informed of activities, we continue to see posts and hear comments that suggest that our associations have not responded, must not be involved, or are not representing the interests of our members. In other words, suggestions that the Academy is out of touch and uninvolved. The reality is that our staff and volunteers are actively reviewing, influencing, and driving forward the major issues that matter most to audiology.
Posts that spread misinformation (even through a seemingly simple comment) induce panic and distrust and sow discord among the profession. When we act from a premise that our organizations do not sufficiently represent our interests, we undermine our credibility as a profession and weaken our leverage with those we need to influence to drive the change we need.
Our associations—the Academy and others—are the single greatest opportunity we have to influence the professional advancement we all desire, but we must not forget that the power of our associations lies in its members, which means we all have a part to play in their success.
In his best-selling book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni explains why effective teams are so rare and outlines the most common pitfalls and barriers when building successful teams who achieve their desired goals. The most fundamental problem in dysfunctional teams is an absence of trust. Lencioni describes how teams who lack trust jump to conclusions about the intentions and behavior of others and hold grudges when they believe they have been wronged.
Lencioni also claims (and I believe him 100%) that “If you get all the people in an organization rowing in the same direction, you could dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time.”
Imagine if instead of assuming that our organizations have missed the mark, dropped the ball, or are incompetently responding to major issues, we asked, “What might I have missed? What don’t I understand? What do they need to be more effective at representing and communicating my priorities?”
What could be accomplished if our energy was spent inquiring, “How can I help? Whom can I contact? What should I say? How can I collaborate with my colleagues across various organizations, practice settings, and geographic locations to deliver a single, clear, unified message? “
We want and need you to have a voice in shaping the future of our profession. My challenge to you:
- Assume good intent. We all want what is best for the profession.
- Trust the Academy is here for you, because of you, and is working on behalf of you.
- Believe that we want you to be informed, engaged, and empowered.
- Let us know what matters to you in a constructive and positive way.
- Lend your voice through the most appropriate channels to have the greatest impact.
- Help us understand how you want to hear from us.
- Contribute to one collaborative and consistent effort in whatever way you can.
Until we can trust the good intent of our colleagues and our associations, we cannot advance as a profession. Let’s decide together it’s time to be a Team of Teams, unified and powerful in achieving what matters most to us and the patients we serve.
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