The changing landscape of hearing healthcare

We are asked by patients all of the time, "How do we know the right place to get a hearing aid". Many of our patients report being bombarded by local advertisements offering the next best thing in hearing health care at a rock bottom price. To those seeking out hearing health care I caution it can be a minefield out there. There are many ways that you can protect yourself against deceptive practices and slick sales people. First, The MOST important factor in deciding where to seek your hearing health care is that you trust the provider. It is more important to shop around for the Audiologist than to shop around for the product (hearing aid). Go with the person that you trust!

Second, you want to make sure that you are seeing an Audiologist for your diagnostic hearing tests. Often times, test are offered as 'free' because those providing the tests are not able to provide diagnostic tests because insurance companies do not recognize them as providers. If someone is selling hearing aids and is not an Audiologist, they may only be able to test hearing for the purposes of fitting a hearing aids. This test will not be the same as a comprehensive diagnostic test. At many hearing aid stores, the sales person will wear a lab coat to confuse the patient and make them think they are a 'doctor' when in fact they are just selling a device.

Third, you want to make sure that your provider is working with name brand nationally or internationally recognized hearing aid manufacturers. These major hearing aid manufacturers include names such as Resound, Oticon, Phonak, Widex, Siemens (Sivantos), or Starkey. You also want to make sure that the provider is not offering hearing aids that have in a sense, 'locked' technology. If you move away from your current provider, could your hearing aids still be adjusted? Many hearing aids are designed to limit who can actually adjust and program them.

Fourth, here are some VERY important questions to ask when purchasing hearing aids:

1. What is the cost of the device and what is included with this cost? 2. How many years of service, how many office visits are included with the hearing aid purchase? 3. Are there costs for replacement parts (domes, receivers, filters, etc)? 4. Will I be able to see the same provider at each visit or the same team of providers, or is staff constantly shuffled? 5. Are hearing aid fittings verified with Real Ear Measurements? 6. What is the trial period or return period associated with the hearing aid purchase? 7. How long should my hearing aid last? 8. For how many years will this hearing aid be repairable if something were to go wrong? 9. Can the hearing aid being recommended integrate with other technology that I use in my day to day life? 10. Are more than 1 manufacturer of hearing aids offered here? 11. Are you an independent practice or are you owned by another entity? 12. How long have you been in practice? 13. How can I communicate with my provider if I have a problem. 14. Why is there such a price range when it comes to hearing aids?

Stay tuned to this blog for the answers to the questions later in the week! Please check us out and like us on Facebook. Check out our website for updates at The Hearing Center . Please contact our Director of Audiology with any questions you may have.