Why did the WSIB issue its RFP for Hearing Aids?
The WSIB’s contract with hearing aid vendors came to an end and we were required, under the Ontario Public Service Procurement Directive, to conduct a procurement initiative consistent with ensuring sound, ethical, consistent, open, fair, and transparent purchasing decisions.
What criteria were used to determine which vendors were successful in the RFP?
The WSIB engaged a third-party consultant with expertise in the hearing aid market to make recommendations on the types of hearing aids and key features that would meet the needs of people with work-related hearing loss. The following key principles guided the RFP process:
- A wide range of quality hearing devices
- Geographic coverage across Ontario
- Improved warranties
- Access to bundled devices and products
- Value for money
- Improved supplier relationship management and administrative efficiencies
- Continuous education related to emerging technologies
Policy and practice changes
Are there any changes in the WSIB’s hearing devices program?
When requesting a replacement for a lost, stolen or damaged hearing device, people with noise-induced hearing loss must complete and submit a Declaration of lost, stolen or damaged hearing device form.
People with claims can continue to access our program of care to cover all hearing services in the first year of hearing device use. People with a claim who need to purchase or replace a hearing device can continue to deal with their local hearing aid provider for their hearing needs as usual.
Choice and selection of hearing devices
What types of hearing aids are available? Does the WSIB have to approve the hearing aids selected?
Each of the five vendors contracted with the WSIB offer authorized hearing aid models that will meet the needs of most people with work-related hearing loss. No pre-approval will be required for entry- and mid-level (authorized) hearing aid models.
What type of hearing assistive technologies are available?
We have negotiated pricing on additional products for a more seamless process for our customers, including auxiliary hearing device products and batteries. We will now have set negotiated pricing and service codes for those negotiated products (including batteries) similar to hearing aids. Batteries are still currently included for the first year after a new hearing aid is dispensed, during the program of care.
What happens if authorized hearing aids cannot meet someone’s needs?
The WSIB may consider offering a suitable hearing aid from its exception-level category for those with specific clinical requirements. The hearing aid provider must submit a Hearing aid replacement and/or clinical exception request form to request an exception level hearing aid model. The request must include supporting clinical evidence through a hearing assessment, a prescription and documented clinical rationale explaining why the person’s needs cannot be met with an authorized hearing aid model.
Requests to provide someone with an exception-level hearing aid will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Have there been any changes to the WSIB’s Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Program of Care?
At this time, the Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Program of Care will continue to apply for the first year after a new hearing aid is dispensed for people with work-related noise-induced hearing loss. The program of care provides evidence-based hearing services to reduce the impact of hearing loss and was developed in collaboration with the Association of Hearing Instrument Practitioners of Ontario and the Ontario Association of Speech-language Pathologists and Audiologists and staff.
The program of care covers all hearing services in the first year of hearing aid use including: a comprehensive assessment, dispensing and fitting of the hearing aid, follow-up care and education and support for people with work-related noise-induced hearing loss and their families or caregivers.
For additional information, please refer to making a claim for noise-induced hearing loss.