5 Signs a Hearing Aid Practice Is the Right fit for you

Since I first stepped foot into a hearing practice 20 years ago I’ve had the privilege of working in, starting up, researching and observing a wide variety of hearing practices and hundreds of Audiologists. Additionally, I’ve helped hundreds of patients successfully return to a fuller participation in life. This experience has given me a unique perspective that I’m looking forward to sharing with you.

I’m commonly asked where to recommend interstate and international patients, friends and family for hearing health care. In giving such advice, 5 general themes have emerged that may be helpful to anyone contemplating who to entrust with their hearing health care.

I hope that this short guide plays a small part in raising awareness of quality hearing health care and helping you achieve better hearing and associated enhancement in your quality of life and that of those around you.

Here’s the five signs to look out for:

1. The practice works with wide range of hearing solutions

Most attendees at my live seminars are shocked to learn that most hearing aid practices in Australia are owned by foreign hearing aid manufacturers. What this means is that they are only able to recommend to you the devices that their company makes. This is not necessarily a ‘bad’ thing in most cases as all major manufacturers tend to have solutions that are adequate. In my experience, however, no one manufacturer has the best solution for every hearing loss and every patient. Even when they do have the best solution for a particular person’s situation, another manufacturer may come out with a more advanced solution 6 months later.

Independent Audiologists are able to choose from whichever manufacturer they see fit. There are 6 major manufacturers that tend to wax and wane in quality and effectiveness, often due to their Research & Development cycles. I would recommend that whoever you see for your hearing needs, ensure they work with at least 3 brands, that way chances are you’ll be recommended the right solution now and in the future are heightened. If your chosen hearing health care provider has a limited range, I recommend that you are 100% satisfied in the solution before making a commitment.

Bottom Line: A wider range of options lends itself to a higher degree of success

2. The practice focuses on their clinical specialists more than their brand

It has been my experience that the most important factor in the success of any hearing health care program is the experience, skill and attitude of the Audiologist delivering the treatment. Having managed and observed countless Audiologists over the years I can tell you that the variation in talent varies widely within hearing care organisations. Many large chains experience high staff turnover and/or move their Audiologists around between practices. There’s also a tendency to promote competent Audiologists into ‘senior’ positions away from seeing patients (which blows my mind). With such high potential for change, there’s a good reason why the company will focus more in their brand than their clinicians in online and written materials.

I’ve found that Independent Audiologists that are partners of, or own their own practices tend to be the most experienced, hold the longest tenure and deliver the most consistent service. You can generally find out quite a bit about who you’ll be entrusting your hearing health care to via their website. As practice owners are very much dependent on word of mouth referrals, they can’t afford to give you anything but premium service and the right advice.

Bottom Line: Try find out a little about the Audiologist that will be seeing you in particular their years of experience, only make a commitment if you’re satisfied they will be there to help you over the long term.

3. The practice is focused on quality care, not just government funding

In Australia we are fortunate to have a relatively generous funding program offering substantial subsidies to pensioners. With such funding comes paperwork, set regulations and procedures. Most of which are necessary to ensure correct use of tax payers money, but it can, from what I’ve observed, result in a ‘one size fits all’ mindset that is not always conducive to an outstanding patient experience.

I recall in my masters training we were required to have work experience in a range of clinic settings, including government focussed practices. The emphasis of these practices, as I perceived it, was on what can be claimed rather that what the patient actually wanted. Administration first, patients second and in a cookie cutter-like fashion, hearing device recommendations were almost always the ‘beige banana’ variety.

A flexible and individualised approach to hearing health care tends to work best in my experience for ALL patients, including pensioners. One of my patients summed up the common experience at funding-oriented practices “It felt like I was at Centerlink; when I told them I didn’t have a pension card; they didn’t know what to do with me!”

Bottom Line: If you’re made to feel more like a number than a person; your needs may better met elsewhere

4. The practice is focussed on full time hearing aid use

Ask any of my patients and they’ll tell you that I’m fanatical (in the nicest possible way) about full time hearing device use. In order to receive maximum benefit and value from hearing devices, they need to be worn at 12-16 hours per day. I spend around 50% of my clinical time encouraging, checking and counselling about the importance of full-time use. In my view, full time use of hearing devices should be the #1 priority of any Audiologist. In order to achieve that, the devices need to be sufficiently comfortable, appropriately tuned and their basic operation well understood.

At times this can be hard work because what is required is habit change. Whilst there is a bit to get used to up front, after 7-10 days full time use it tends to be plain sailing. Full time use will enable you to better filter out unwanted sounds and provide adequate stimulation to the hearing centres of the brain.

Bottom Line: Repeated and consistent reminders and advice about full time use is a sure sign you’re in good hands

5. The practice is committed to ongoing education

Over the past 7 years there has been a relative explosion in research into the impact of untreated hearing loss on cognitive decline. I’ve found that thorough knowledge of the detail and implications of this important research has assisted my practice, my choice of solutions and the manner in which I guide and educate my patients. I’ve found it necessary and beneficial to take up further studies and gain additional qualifications in Neuroscience to better understand and apply the subject matter. Much of what I’ve learned in recent years are new findings that were not known when I studied a Master of Audiology over 18 years ago.

I find that a strong focus on patient education also assists in achieving quality outcomes. Knowing the rationale behind the importance of treatment, why specific recommendations were made and how to get the most value out of the devices tends to lead to better results. The practice website should give you a sense as to whether there is a strong focus on ongoing clinical and patient education.

Bottom Line: Hearing health care and how it is best delivered is constantly evolving, a commitment to ongoing education helps ensure you’re getting the right advice now and in future.

In summary, there’s many talented hearing health care providers out there and it can be a challenge to know who to turn to. At NeuAudio we strive to ‘practice what we preach’; please let us know if we can help in any way.

Best Regards


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