Exploring the barriers and opportunities in alternate modes of hearing service delivery to address in hearing care uptake: a scoping review

Authors: Harini Madhu

1Edinburgh Napier University

Background: Despite the awareness that nearly 20% of the world population who require hearing aids do not use them, the current healthcare system is not equipped to effectively aid these individuals. Ongoing research on the innovative landscape of hearing care delivery like direct-to-consumer services has the potential to address barriers and increase the uptake of hearing services still, there is limited research on unexplored challenges and opportunities in these types of services. This study reviews the barriers and opportunities in the direct-to-consumer service delivery in hearing care reported to date aiming to set a foundation for future research and develop innovative ideas for healthcare workflow.

Methods: A scoping review was conducted using Arksey and O’Malley (2005) and PRISMA-ScR guidelines. 5864 studies were identified by searching four databases and 32 from grey literature, with 14 including articles retrieved after the screening process.

Results: A mix of qualitative and quantitative studies, clinical trials and commentary were included in the review highlighting four barriers and six opportunities. Lack of professional support and limited patient awareness and understanding of this type of service delivery were described as notable barriers from both consumer and provider perspectives. The lower cost of the devices available in this type of service delivery and ease of access were identified as being major advantages.

Conclusion: Integrating direct-to-consumer services into traditional clinical practice was presented as an important opportunity to increase the efficiency of hearing care. Since most of the included studies were from the United States, investigating this service delivery across diverse healthcare settings as a way of augmenting hearing care accessibility and utilization should be the future focus. Further research is also needed to explore both the consumer and provider perspectives in different healthcare settings throughout the world