By Karl Strom, Editor-in-Chief

You mean that was it? This is our last issue of 2012? Once again, time has passed so quickly that it feels like it was only yesterday when I’d finalized HR’s 2012 editorial calendar.

The end of the year always prompts editors to try to tie things up in a neat tidy bow and present a succinct summary of events and what they mean—a task doomed to failure (I know this because I’ve tried it enough times). Inevitably, we turn to lists, which, admittedly, don’t tell anything close to the entire Karl StromKarl Strom
story but do serve as useful landmarks. The following is a list of the dozen top news articles (by page views on www.hearingreview.com), in sequential order. (You can read all of these articles by accessing our digital or online editions; for a list of our top feature articles in 2012, please visit our Web site and search/click on “Top Articles in 2012: Editor’s Picks.”)

Apart from breakthroughs like 3D ear canal scanning and Apple-compatible hearing aids, the majority of HR’s top news stories in 2012 related—in some way, shape, or form—to the potential disruption of the traditional/professional dispensing channels, with particular emphasis on United Health’s entry into the market, personal sound amplification products (PSAPs), and Internet/OTC devices. HR has published two interviews with United Health/hi HealthInnovations’ executives (October 2011 and May 2012 HR), as well as a key article by Dianne Van Tassell, PhD, in January 2012 about the company’s methods for hearing assessment and gain prescription in its clinic and at-home tests, respectively. Jerry Northern, PhD, took on the issue of PSAPs and OTC devices in his special feature article, “The Secret Is Service,” in the May 2012 HR. Likewise, Dr Northern addressed the great promise of tele-audiology in our October edition. HR expects to publish in the first quarter of 2013 an article by Jerry Yanz, PhD, and Robert Margolis, PhD, that addresses some of these important topics, as well.

Although we tend to look at factors such as reimbursement, the Internet, big-box retailers, technology, etc, as the driving forces of change in our industry, I think we do so at our own peril. The driving force for change is—now and forever—the consumer. We can and should entreat our industry’s organizations and various government agencies to take action to ensure that the playing field is always level and safe. But, ultimately, the distribution of hearing healthcare products will be won by those who provide the greatest value (defined as the price of the products/services per percent reduction in hearing handicap) to the average consumer. In this respect, the future of our current hearing healthcare delivery model is bright—even as the news suggests that we need to improve, pull together, and find new ways to excel at serving the estimated 16 to 24 million people in the United States who need hearing aids and related products and services.

The staff of HR thanks all of our readers, contributors, and advertisers for their terrific support during 2012, and we wish you the very best in the Holiday Season and new year.