The ability to deliver a viable solution to address your patients’ hearing challenges—while providing quality care and counseling—is paramount to your success as a hearing care provider. Many other factors influence your success, such as the healthcare system, clinical community, the industry, and hearing aid manufacturers, as well as the development of new technology and tools for enhanced care.
From a business perspective, continued market consolidation requires resilience to new competition and competitive hearing aid pricing. Financial stability ensures the availability of tools for workflow efficiency and productivity of the dispensing practice, and your ability to employ and retain skilled personnel. A strong revenue stream also allows for the addition of specialized services, as well as the ability to invest in new technologies and the training needed to apply advanced techniques.
So how does an independent practice keep up with the demands of today’s consumer and market? One way to cut costs is by utilizing integrated tools and procedures—and adapting to new fitting technology. The most advanced technologies today are intuitive and require less time to learn. In addition, customer service and professionalism play a key role in the patient’s overall experience. Here are three ways to help you decrease costs and sharpen your competitive edge.
- Ensure Hearing Aid Adoption
Decreasing the number of returns for credit and “in the drawer” hearing aids can dramatically improve practice revenues. Every unused hearing aid that ends up in a drawer represents a lack of income for you and a dissatisfied client with a hearing problem. Ensuring your customers are satisfied with their hearing aids from day one can decrease the number of returns for credit and maintain a good reputation for your clinic and services.
- Reduce the Need for Follow-up Visits
You can achieve significant cost savings by finding ways to save time by reducing the number of follow-up visits. Many hearing care professionals focus on the duration of the first visit. In fact, you should consider the time spent on the entire fitting cycle—the total number of visits and the duration of each visit. While it may sound contradictory, spending more time with your client on the first visit actually saves time in the end by reducing the unplanned troubleshooting visits that can disrupt the schedule in a busy clinic.
Verification and validation can play an important part in this. MarkeTrak VIII1 shows that verification and validation in the hearing aid fitting process can significantly reduce patient visits (1.2 fewer visits) and improve patient satisfaction. In fact, there is a direct correlation between dispensing protocols and successful patient outcomes. Therefore, while it may seem illogical to spend time to save time, spending more time on the first visit using verification (probe microphone measurements) and validation (questionnaires) can help you realize significant time-saving benefits.
- Differentiate Your Practice
In addition to cost savings, another way to gain a competitive advantage is to take steps to differentiate yourself and your clinic. By focusing on the unique abilities of you and your staff, you can stand out from the crowd. Many parameters influence whether or not a patient will purchase a hearing aid; price is one factor, but it is not the only one.
A recent EuroTrak study2 shows that those who have never purchased a hearing aid regard the price of the device as more important than the quality of the hearing care professional.2 However, for those who already own a hearing aid, price is not as important as the professional. Therefore, the ability to demonstrate and show the benefits of the hearing aid to both first-time and repeat users is equally important. For first-time users, it is all about setting expectations; for patients who are already using a hearing instrument, you want to use their visits, in part, to demonstrate new features and potentially up-sell them to another model of hearing aid or new accessories, if beneficial.
Thanks to our very own Jeantte Fitzke, AuD and Peter Kossek, AuD, for penning this article for the Hearing Review!
Brianna Young, AuD, FAAA, ABA
Clinical Support Audiology Supervisor