When it comes to being successful in private practice, one thing we hear consistently from our customers is the importance of believing in the products you sell. The right mix of technology and customer service is a winner for business growth.
Technology today is far more than the hearing aids you sell. It’s the accessories that help hearing aids work better for patients and the tools that audiologists can leverage to ensure that patients leave their practice satisfied and happy.
Dianne Cooper of South Florida ENT Associates, had her reservations about offering wireless accessories at her practice. Even with a younger patient base (40 – 70 years of age), Dianne wondered whether her patients would understand enough about the technology to trust it and use it. She was concerned about how user friendly the accessories would be to set up and use on an everyday basis. In the beginning, she found herself saying to her patients, “if this doesn’t work, I will come to your house and hook it up for you.” Despite her initial reservations, Dianne has been pleasantly surprised about how easy it is to use the Unite wireless accessories. “The accessories have been very well received,” she says. “I set up as much as I can in advance for the patient. This really helps them take the accessories home and jump straight into using them.”
One of Dianne’s patients told her that the phone clip accessory had completely changed the way he does business and how much he can do on the fly. “One thing you don’t necessarily think about when you’re not hearing impaired is how difficult it is to hear sound from multiple sources,” says Dianne. “With the phone clip wireless accessory, my patient is able to receive sound from the phone and from the environment around him, making it easier for him to multi-task.”
Deciding whether to purchase a wireless accessory or not definitely comes down to lifestyle, as indicated from the example above. Understanding a patient’s lifestyle and needs is therefore critical in the patient counseling process. “Have patient needs first and foremost,” says Dianne. “Don’t feel like a failure if they walk out the door without doing anything. If you do a good job, they do end up coming back. They’re just not ready.” At Dianne’s practice, she estimates that one in three patients will buy a wireless accessory. “Insurance companies of course muddy the water,” she says, “it makes conversion harder. I would say that 50 – 60% of patients do something at the time of the appointment, whether it is make a follow up appointment or submit an order.”
Emerging technologies that are making it easier for audiologists and dispensers to assess and understand patient lifestyle needs are mobile and iPad applications. ReSound’s new ClearPath iPad app, for example, helps dispensers show patients how an investment in top-level technology will deliver the listening experience that is most important to them.
It’s easy to make assumptions about the kind of hearing aid technology that a patient is going to want based on initial interactions and impressions,” said Jim Zeigler Au.D. at Family Hearing Center “The great thing about the ClearPath app is that it helps validate or negate those impressions so that we ultimately recommend the right technology for the patient’s lifestyle.” Within the first few weeks of using ClearPath, Jim experienced the value of ClearPath first-hand.
Jim had a husband and wife come into his clinic for a consultation. The husband told Audiologist Dr. Judith Johnston him that he was getting hearing aids from the VA, but wanted his wife to be assessed. Jim’s initial assumption was that, with one spouse receiving free hearing aids, the wife would be looking at lower cost entry level technology. Dr. Johnston had the husband and wife complete the lifestyle assessment through the ClearPath application and they discussed important listening environments based on the prompts from the app. When the assessment was complete, the application recommended top-of-the-line technology (Alera 9s). Based on the hearing aid demo and the lifestyle assessment, the wife went ahead and ordered a pair of Alera 9s. “That day, I found out how far off I was in my initial assumptions,” said Jim. “Without ClearPath, we would have under fit this patient based on initial assumptions. I am looking forward to using it for more patients in order to match the technology with their lifestyle needs..”
The ClearPath iPad app will be officially launched at AudiologyNOW! at the end of March. Stop by the ReSound booth #1063 to test it out.