Patient-centered care—respecting patients' preferences and values—is increasingly discussed as an important facet of health care reform. Effective doctor–patient communication is an essential component, but it can be severely hindered when the patient has impaired hearing. Inadequate doctor–patient communication in this context can lead to negative effects such as difficulty in making appointments, patient anxiety, and medication dosing errors. Approximately 25 million Americans have clinically significant hearing loss. That number is expected to increase as the population ages, indicating that health care providers must learn to attend to the special needs of this growing patient population.