As an audiologist, you know the most basic, yet important, facts about how hearing aids work: microphones always pick up what’s closest and loudest. This means that microphones can’t differentiate what sound or whose voice is of the most importance to the wearer.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) entered the Hearing Aids vs. Personal Sound Amplification Products debate by distinguishing the intended uses of the two devices. In its determination, the FDA classified hearing aids as “medical devices” and PSAPs as “electronic products.”
When a patient is tested for hearing loss, and the results indicate that they need hearing aids, the first question they will likely ask you is “how much are they going to cost?” Unfortunately, many hearing aid models aren’t cheap and most health insurance companies don’t cover them. However, there are low-cost options that can be considered, and there will be even more once OTC hearing aids arrive in 2020.
Of course, with these low-cost options comes another common question. “Will the cheaper hearing aids still effectively help me hear better?”
Good news! Advancements in technology have made it possible for your patients with hearing loss to optimize their homes for their condition. This means no more missing an important phone call, an in-home emergency, or a ringing doorbell because of their deafness. Smart home accessories can connect to Oticon Opn™ hearing aids to help your patients vastly improve their quality of life.
Hearing aids give your patients the ability to lead as quality of a life as possible, allowing them to more easily partake in conversations, watch television, and be aware of environmental hazards. That’s all great, but when they come to you upset that they can’t listen to their earbuds while exercising, what is your response?
Until recently, there was no good solution to this dilemma. Now, however, you can introduce your patients to Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids.
As we get older, we unlock more of life’s experiences. At 16, you can get your license and hit the open road. At 21, you can legally patron bars and consume alcoholic beverages. For now, you can start collecting Social Security at age 62. And right around the same time, you become a much-desired target for anyone selling hearing aids.
Coping with life’s challenges is never easy, especially if they involve a physical limitation like losing one’s hearing. For many patients with hearing loss the reaction could be fear, as in wanting to escape the situation, or shame, as in wanting to hide from it.
As a hearing aid dispenser, you work is highly important. Unfortunately, as with most professions in the medical world, sometimes you have to deliver bad news to your patients. When people come to you, they're likely aware that their hearing isn't as clear as it should be — otherwise, they wouldn't have sought your assistance in the first place. But just because somebody is fully aware things could be better, it doesn't make it any easier to hear the news: you need to wear a hearing aid.
I have been involved with real ear measurement (REM) since it was first introduced in the late 1980s. Certainly hearing aids and measurement systems have come a long way since then. Today we are seeing many dispensing clinics make real ear measurement the center of the practice. Let me share with you some of the ways that REM can make a real difference in your practice (pun intended).
As an owner of a private practice, you always need to be thinking of ways you can set yourself apart from the competition. At least that’s how Dr. Alison Vega of Ascent Audiology & Hearing of Olympia sees it. Day in and day out, she racks her brain on ways she can communicate reasons why existing and new patients should choose her practice over her competitors.
Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Vega about her competition in the space and how she differentiates her practice.