Above from left: Liz Midgley (BSA chair), Sue Falkingham (BAA president) and Sarah Vokes (BSHAA president)
The pilot event at the Leeds City Hilton - supported by gold sponsors Sivantos and Cochlear Europe Ltd - delivered a full day of thought-provoking presentations and interactive sessions, as well as an exhibition (which was packed at coffee breaks and over lunch) and end-of-event expert panel.
Delegates took part in real-time online votes to gauge their thoughts on current issues in audiology, and there was no doubting what they thought will have the biggest impact on the future of hearing healthcare over the next decade: 82% said technology-driven services and products.
Technology featured strongly in many of the day’s presentations. Francois Julita, Phonak’s director for digital experience, appealed to delegates to embrace technological innovation and the different models of service that it would foster. Dr Mel Ferguson from the NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre, meanwhile, looked at some of the mHealth technologies that are rapidly shifting the way hearing healthcare is delivered.
Elsewhere, the event delivered a wide-ranging selection of presentations. Mel Gregory, chief executive of The Ear Foundation, looked at the role and value of hearing care in the future, and Dr Piers Dawes from Manchester University’s Centre for Audiology and Deafness dispelled some myths in an evidence-based lecture on what we know and don’t know about sensory impairment and dementia. Gemma Twitchen outlined the work being carried out by Action on Hearing Loss, while Jane Wild outlined the new Sound Practice website that will enable audiology professionals to share ideas and good practice. Curtis Alcock from Audira, meanwhile, delivered a passionate appeal to everyone in audiology to work together, and there were presentations from the event’s gold sponsors, Sivantos and Cochlear Europe Limited.
Kelvin Hawker from Cochlear Europe Limited delivers his presentation at Towards a Connected Future
The final element of the event saw an expert panel answering questions that had been posted by delegates throughout the day, as well as via social media. Curtis Alcock and Francois Julita were joined by BSHAA chief executive David Welbourn; Chime managing director Jonathan Parsons; Rosemary Monk, BSc Healthcare Science (Audiology) course director; BAA chief executive Wendy Farrington-Chadd; and BSA chair Liz Midgley.
Towards a Connected Future exhibitors:
Sarah Vokes, president of the British Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists, said: “I thoroughly enjoyed the event, which felt like a real ground-breaking moment for our profession. Thank you to everyone who came along and supported – delegates, speakers, our gold sponsors and exhibitors. Everyone contributed to a very successful event. We’re looking forward to hearing delegates’ views through our post-event survey and we all now need to build on the momentum that has been generated. The three organisations are in the same space, not in competition but very much in collaboration.”
Liz Midgley, chair of the British Society of Audiology, said: “I really enjoyed the day and the buzz created by so many enthusiastic audiology professionals. I was extremely encouraged by the presentations of all the hard work going on out there by very talented people who are driven to make sure our practice is as evidence-based as possible. I also enjoyed the excellent exhibition and hope the exhibitors were pleased with the atmosphere and interest. My biggest take-home impression was that there is so much work out there to do, but that we shouldn’t feel in competition with each other. Instead, we should all work together to achieve a common goal. To use Curtis Alcock’s words from his presentation: ‘If we all pull the heavy truck together we’ll be able to get it moving’.”
Sue Falkingham, president of the British Academy of Audiology, added: “The buzz in the room from the delegates was immediate and sustained. One of my favourite moments was when the sessions broke for lunch and delegates were too interested in their table discussions to get up and leave. Those networking connections are building fast. Introducing new resources from The Ear Foundation, BSA, C2Hear and others to the wider cross-sector network was great for building the experiences of those that access our services. I hope everyone who attended took away a small gem of knowledge from across the sector.”