We’ve been asked how we will fare in a climate where conglomerates and chains dominate the market. Our stance is that, as long as our values are at the heart of a patient centered approach and there are still hearing impaired people out there needing help, our job is not done.
Differentiating ourselves from the market is difficult in a way as everyone talks about improving hearing. Our view is that, service is the key and that means building a strong and honest relationship with our clients. We have flexibility and will work out a suitable solution for you, there will be no blanket approach I’m afraid.
Ultimately, a smaller independent clinic would not be able to compete in a price war between a large chain (possibly owned by a hearing aid manufacturer) with buying power of the hundreds if not thousands of units. Their rationale is that, generally most hearing losses can be fitted with ‘x’ product and hence are able to drive the price way down.
However, the argument is that where does the consumer then have a choice in the decision making of the treatment solution?
There are lots of analogies of where this is happening; pharmaceuticals, consumer electronics, food…the list goes on.
We will never be able to solve the problem. And some don’t see it as a problem at all.
It would certainly make it far easier in the world of Audiology that you can easily program a hearing aid up, pop it in someone’s ear and hey Presto! their hearing loss is ‘fixed’. They walk out of there, with ‘perfect’ hearing and all sounds are tolerable and perfectly crystal.
This might happen if we were dealing with a ‘corrective issue’. Corrective, being used in this instance, likened to say short-sightedness, a refractive issue.
Once you correct the short sightedness, everything comes into focus and things are clear visually.
In the case of sensorineural hearing loss, where it is the sensory cells that are damaged – and this could range from the sensory hair cells in the inner ear, right up to the innervation of the hearing nerve and then how the brain actually perceives the sound coming in.
The whole pathway is complex and more so when you’re dealing with years of sensory deprivation and years of the brain having to cope with what reduced sensory stimulation it has had when the hearing loss gradually declines.
It’s certainly not as simple as a refractive issue, a corrective issue.
Counselling is involved a lot of the time, patience in allowing the brain to setlle in to the incoming signal from the amplified sound it is now receiving. It takes time for the brain to get used to it, for it to become the new ‘norm’.
This is something an Audiologist is trained on (at least some), to be able to explain and to encourage the client during the initial stages of wearing the hearing aid, to adjustment over time as the person needs more volume/clarity or whatever adjustments need to be made.
With a more personalised approach, and more flexibility, you will get that care and the patience, from I believe a smaller clinic with less over heads to worry about.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t come down solely on the price of the hearing aid itself, it comes down to the overall care and level of service you receive. This is really the key to a successful outcome of a hearing aid trial. And the better outcome for you in the long run.