Revolutionizing Audiology: A Personalized Approach to Hearing Aid Selection

For nearly three decades, I’ve been practicing as an audiologist, focusing on helping people with their ear and hearing needs. While I’ve experienced various work environments, the most fulfilling for me has been in private practice. It allows me to serve people in a way that feels natural. Focusing on their individual needs rather than treating hearing healthcare as merely a sales job.

Unfortunately, the audiology field does include a sales component as audiologists can’t cure hearing loss (unless it is wax removal). Therefore, it must involve providing products like hearing aids. My approach to this has been to separate the service aspect from the product sales. Aiming to assist clients in finding the best prescription hearing aids, for them, rather than merely selling them a product, because there is no one “best” product.

My Path to Private Practice

The journey to my current private practice began after I left a Ph.D. program and started working with ENT doctors. In that setting, the prevailing approach was to sell hearing aids by randomly selecting what we thought people might like. Then giving them a 45-day trial period, and finally trying something different if they weren’t satisfied.

This protocol was problematic for me, as it felt too much like a blind sales pitch.  These pitches included using key phrases for sales that were given to us by the manufacturer. This led to a high rate of returns, or what I considered exchanges, which was frowned upon by the ENT doctors I worked with. After facing criticism for the financial impact of these returns, I essentially moved into private practice. In my private practice I was free to implement a different method. 

Keep in mind, even if the customer didn’t return the hearing aids, they still might have ended up in a drawer as it wasn’t really their sound. I apologize to all the patients I saw back in the day selling in this way. I wish I would have moved on quicker. 

There is No Such Thing as “Best Prescription Hearing Aids” & Why the Demo Process Works

In my current practice, I’ve adopted a more customer-centric approach. This approach allows clients to try different hearing aids to compare their benefits before committing to a purchase. My demo process has been incredibly well-received by my patients, who appreciate the ability to test and evaluate various options.

Recently, a customer who came to our clinic seeking repair parts for his existing hearing aid experienced this process firsthand. After trying a demo hearing aid for a week, he was pleasantly surprised at the noticeable differences between various models. He had previously assumed all hearing aids were alike, but this experience showed him that not only were they different, but some were significantly better suited to his needs.

Customers often struggle to make informed choices about hearing aids, given the overwhelming amount of marketing in the industry. Many are drawn to specific brands or models based on what they’ve seen in commercials or online videos, rather than on actual experience. “Best prescription hearing aids” do not exist, and this is where our demo process plays a crucial role—it provides a tangible way for clients to assess the functionality and features of different hearing aids. Helping them make more informed decisions. We also offer guidance on what might work best for each individual. Considering factors like artificial intelligence (AI), voice processing, waterproofing, and other advanced technologies.

We Care About Our Patient’s Experience

Our private practice in Hopkins has gained a strong reputation, attracting referrals from other physicians and clients due to our unique demo process. We aim to create a comfortable environment where clients can try one or multiple hearing aids. With each pair set up similarly to ensure consistent comparisons. Beyond simply fitting hearing aids, this also allows clients to test additional features like phone connectivity, streaming, and music quality. Providing a comprehensive experience.

To maintain our service quality, we do charge a fee for each demo. Ensuring we can continue to offer personalized assistance and support.

Overall, my approach to audiology has always been about meeting the individual needs of my clients, offering them choices, and helping them find the best solutions for their hearing health. I believe in a customer-first philosophy and strive to make the process as transparent and user-friendly as possible. While sales are a part of the business, my focus remains on providing valuable service and helping clients make informed decisions about their hearing needs.

I am hopeful that the industry will change, become more transparent in sales and service. 

Thank you for reading!