Patient and technician during consultation.

Technical skill and customer service can’t be commoditized.

I see the hearing aid industry moving in two opposing directions. On the one hand are providers whose business models are based on commoditization and unit volume. We might call these providers “hearing aids peddlers.” Their interest is in sales and speed. There is nothing necessarily wrong with this, as long as the user knows what he or she is buying and not buying. Are we buying hearing aids, or are we buying a skilled provider as our partner and verified the best hearing for our actual lives?

Yes, I affirm the advances in technology we are experiencing in our hearing instruments. The technology is wonderful and getting better all the time. Even so, technology by itself is not the solution we need. Nonetheless, there are market forces in play that are dragging the industry toward commoditization. Insurance companies want your hearing aids to be a commodity…so they only have to pay for some units of plastic and wiring. Big box stores want hearing aids to be a commodity…so they can sell cheap and fast and get the next guy in the door. Often the loser is the one who most needs help. Thousands of dollars for hearing aids and limited actual benefit. This is why we hear stories of people feeling cheated. They were.

On the other hand, within the hearing industry, there are champions of the Better Hearing philosophy. For many of us, it is because we ourselves have a hearing impairment and wear hearing technology. These providers live with a sense of mission about what they’re doing. You experience it on every visit to their clinics. You are welcomed. You get all the time you need. The professionals are extremely thorough. They explain everything they are doing. They do not pressure their patients. They schedule regular appointments for you, to clean your ears and your instruments. They re-test your hearing every year and improve the programming of your aids. They do objective verification procedures all the time to certify to themselves and to you that you are indeed hearing at your very best. These champions are your partners. Their interest is your wellbeing—not just selling a pair of hearing aids. More and more, patients are searching for these champions of Better Hearing. When you find one, stick with that clinic for the rest of your life. The value is profound.

You can tell in which camp I find myself—and where I recommend you go. Of course, I am biased—I have a hearing loss. I entered the industry through my own hearing loss. Find a champion of Better Hearing and don’t let go.