Audiology & Public Health

How Does Audiology Fit Into Public Health?

When you think about “public health,” what comes to mind? Maybe you think of immunization programs, community health centers, or healthcare designed for underserved populations or low-income groups. Perhaps you think about the responsibility to provide clean water and safe environments.
How does audiology fit into public health? Although you may not immediately think of audiology as a core component of public health, you certainly know, as a hearing healthcare professional, that proper hearing healthcare is essential to the health of the community.
The necessity of audiology in public health is largely due to the fact that hearing healthcare impacts so many important aspects of an individual’s life and directly affect their contributions to society. A person with untreated hearing impairment is less likely to succeed in education settings or to have strong future employment opportunities. Those with untreated hearing loss also typically have a lower overall quality of life. Individuals with hearing loss may experience social isolation, depression, anxiety, loneliness, and more.
It is also important to note that untreated hearing loss is linked to a number of other health problems, including dementia and cognitive decline, falls, depression, and anxiety. Untreated hearing loss and insufficient public access to quality hearing healthcare can lead to further health problems, poor education, limited employment opportunities, lower economic status, and a withdrawal from social activity. Hearing loss can also cause issues in friendships, family relationships, and marriages. All of these relationships and establishments are important to the overall community and can lead to broken links in society.
The strong connection between audiology and public health has been recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO). In May 2016, the World Health Assembly (WHA) resolution called on the WHO to prepare a World Report on Hearing (WRH) for the 73rd World Health Assembly. In addition to highlighting any shifts in global hearing loss distribution, the WRH is expected to bring attention to priorities and best practices for ear and hearing care. One goal is to bring a greater focus to guiding public health efforts in addressing the need for advocacy of ear and hearing care.
The 73rd World Health Assembly will take place in May 2020. Until then, it is unknown which particular points will be brought forward in the World Report on Hearing. However, it is certain that the WRH will address how audiology fits into public health and how greater access to quality hearing healthcare care can impact global public health.
As a hearing specialist yourself, you understand the strong link between hearing health, overall well-being, and public health. With a focus on high-quality, individual patient care that is becoming increasingly affordable and accessible, hearing healthcare professionals will certainly play a growing role in ensuring public health.
To learn more about how audiology fits into public health and how you can establish your practice’s role in improving public health and awareness, we invite you to contact us at AudiologyPlus today. We look forward to helping your practice grow and succeed.

Shortage of Audiologists

Researchers Project a Greater Number of People with Hearing Loss & Shortage of Hearing Specialists

2020 marks the beginning of a new decade. This year promises to hold much in store, including the World Report on Hearing (WRH) at the 73rd World Health Assembly (WHA) in May 2020. Dr. Jackie Clark, a clinical professor at the University of Texas at Dallas and a co-founder/co-director of the Coalition for Global Hearing Health, has given us some points to look forward to in this address. These points highlight the importance of audiology in the greater health community.

Dr. Clark brings forward several important points that will surely be addressed in the World Report on Hearing. First, the WRH will likely include at least four of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that were determined by the United Nations in 2015. The three major aims of all 17 SDGs are to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that people enjoy peace and prosperity between now and 2030. The 17 goals were also designed to be universal, and thus implementable and achievable for low-, middle-, and high-income countries.

The four SDGs most likely to be addressed by the World Report on Hearing relates to ending poverty (Goal 1), ensuring good, healthy lives and well-being (Goal 3), improving opportunities for quality education (Goal 4), and promoting employment opportunities (Goal 8). These four goals are highly aligned with the patient-centered care that is at the heart of audiology. Proper identification, diagnosis, and treatment of hearing conditions, like hearing loss, are essential for greater educational success, employability, and overall improved quality of life.

The second major point likely to be included in the World Report on Hearing is the increased affordability and accessibility of hearing healthcare. New legislation regarding over-the-counter hearing aids does indeed open up the possibility for more patients to affordably and easily access hearing aids.

However, it is projected that by 2050, 53 million Americans will suffer from hearing loss. Although employment in the audiology field has been projected to grow by 16 percent between 2018 and 2028, the high percentage of Americans with hearing loss could easily overwhelm the number of trained hearing healthcare professionals. Dr. Clark believes this shortage of highly trained healthcare professionals will be seen on a global level.

What can be done to address this shortage? Dr. Clark suggests a process known as “task shifting.” Task shifting involves delegating and redistributing less specialized tasks to another tier of health workers who have fewer qualifications. For example, a hearing professional may be able to shift some lower-level tasks that do not require such specialized education, skills, and experience to a qualified assistant. This will allow the specialized, highly qualified professional to complete more specialized services and care for more patients.

You can also encourage students to consider a career in audiology. The more you speak about your profession and its opportunities, the more others will be drawn to careers in the field.

The World Report on Hearing that will be presented at the World Health Assembly in May promises to bring greater awareness to the current concerns in hearing care and identify the next steps for improving hearing healthcare for patients around the world. For more information about the WRH and how you can be prepared for the coming changes in the audiology field, we invite you to contact us at AudiologyPlus today. We look forward to assisting you.

AMP pages

What You Need to Know About AMPs

Odds are good that you have not heard of AMPs (accelerated mobile pages) before. And that is okay—because after all, you are a hearing specialist, not a web development or digital marketing specialist! However, that does not mean that you should ignore AMPs (or other new developments in the web world). Accelerated mobile pages can impact your online marketing strategy and success.
An accelerated mobile page is just what it sounds like—it is an accelerated version of a normal webpage that is designed to display on a mobile device. This applies to smartphones and tablets. The purpose of AMPs is to ensure that your content displays quickly and accurately on all types of devices.
Have you ever clicked on a link on your smartphone, only to have the images and text load so slowly that you eventually gave up and exited the page? Or have you encountered pages that were obviously not formatted for a mobile device, leaving you scrolling forever or unable to see certain portions of the page?
These are common problems that AMPs aim to solve. Accelerated mobile pages feature a stripped-down version of HTML web coding. The regulations for AMPs are fairly strict, with only certain types of code and features allowed. For example, forms are not allowed on AMPs, as they can slow down the page and be cumbersome on a mobile device. These restrictions ensure that accelerated mobile pages load quickly and run smoothly, no matter what type of device being used.
So, why does this matter to you? If you have a hearing practice, you should also have a website for your practice. You may already have a website, but if your pages take too long to load on a mobile device or are not optimized for mobile viewing, potential new patients may be lost.
With accelerated mobile pages, you can ensure that anyone who clicks on your links online has a smooth, fast user experience. AMPs prioritize the user experience above all, making sure that users have a positive, easy experience on your website regardless of their device or platform.
While AMPs feature a streamlined version of HTML and do not allow all types of formatting and features, that does not mean they are plain. Accelerated mobile pages can still be branded to match your existing website and ensure that website visitors have a consistent experience across all of your pages. AMPs can also still feature images, video, motion graphics, and other types of media, in addition to text content.
Although accelerated mobile pages were first introduced a couple of years ago, now is still a great time to start using them. Utilizing AMPs can streamline the user experience and ensure that your website visitors have an optimal experience on your website.
To learn more about accelerated mobile pages and to find out if adding AMPs to your marketing strategy could benefit your practice, we encourage you to contact us at AudiologyPlus today. We are here to meet all of your online marketing needs so your business can flourish.

The Importance of Mobile-Optimized Content

The Importance of Mobile-Optimized Content

You are probably aware that mobile-friendly websites are increasingly important, as more and more people do a majority of their Internet browsing from their mobile phones. Gone are the days of using a desktop or even laptop computers for most of your online searches. In fact, people are now spending more time on their mobile devices than they are watching TV. 2019 is the first year in which time on mobile devices overtook TV time.
Google has not ignored this trend. Back in 2015, Google declared that they would be using mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This means that if your website is not mobile-friendly, your site will be ranked lower than others that are mobile-friendly. Google took this a step further in 2018, when they announced “mobile-first” indexing. Mobile-first indexing means that Google uses your mobile website before your desktop website to determine your site ranking.
Because Google has placed such great importance on mobile websites, it is now essential to have a mobile-friendly website. Your website should quickly and easily change size and format to fit the user’s device size, whether they are using a smartphone, a tablet, a laptop, or a desktop computer. Some menus, buttons, and other functions on your website also need to change depending on the device in use.
In addition to the technical aspects of a mobile-friendly website, your content should also be optimized for mobile use. For example, your social media posts should be designed to catch the attention of a visitor who is simply scrolling through Facebook or Instagram. If your content on social media is too long, not visual enough, or not engaging enough, it will not incite the viewer to stop and look at your content.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you optimize your content for mobile devices and users:

  • Remember that many mobile users are looking at their phones while multitasking. You need to grab their attention in a quick moment and communicate your message efficiently and effectively.
  • Facebook and Instagram both offer options to add gifs, stickers, text, and other animated elements to your posts, especially your Stories. This adds an element of motion that tends to catch a viewer’s eye.
  • Consider adding sound to your social media posts. If the user has sound enabled on their device, the sound will grab their attention.
  • Follow mobile content trends. For example, photo flat-lays are very popular right now. Utilizing this type of image for your practice’s marketing can capture the attention of seasoned social media users.

With these simple tips in mind, you are ready to create mobile-optimized content that helps grow your online presence and your business.
At AudiologyPlus, we work hard to stay abreast of the latest changes and trends in online marketing. To ensure that your website continues to perform at its best, we have already updated all of our customers’ websites to work within the mobile-first standard implemented by Google. You can rest easy knowing that your website is compliant with all of Google’s mobile requirements.
If you would like to learn more about mobile optimization or any other digital marketing topics, please contact us at AudiologyPlus. We are eager to speak with you!

Content Marketing Can Generate New Leads

How Content Marketing Can Generate New Leads for Your Business

If you run your own hearing healthcare practice, you know that you have many options when it comes to marketing. There are traditional methods like radio and TV ads, mailers, newspaper and magazine ads, and billboards. Then there are newer, digital marketing options like a branded website, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), and online ads.
With all of these marketing options, you need to make sure you choose the right options that will give you the greatest return on investment (ROI). If you are looking for a way to generate new leads for your business, content marketing might be the right choice for you. First of all, content marketing has been shown to generate three times as many leads as traditional marketing. Second, content marketing costs an average of 62 percent less than traditional marketing. That sounds like a win-win for your practice!
Of course, none of this will work if you aren’t doing content marketing “the right way.” To help get you on the right track with content marketing, here are a few simple tips to keep in mind:

  1. Create an ideal “buyer persona” to guide your content.

If you do not know exactly whom you’re creating content for, your content won’t be tailored to your audience and won’t generate good leads. What you need to do is create a “buyer persona,” which is a profile of your ideal new patient lead.
In doing this, be as detailed as possible. Consider your ideal buyer’s age, income, gender, location, ambition, and what solutions they are looking for. You may need to create a couple of different buyer personas to fit your patient base.

  1. Simplify your landing pages.

A landing page is typically used when a person has clicked on a specific link for a particular service or product, rather than for someone casually browsing your website. Because the person who reaches your landing page has already selected a service they are interested in, your goal on the landing page should be to convert them into a lead (and not to show them the rest of your website). For this reason, you may want to remove your site navigation on landing pages.
It is also important to make it obvious what you want them to do on the landing page. Make fields they should fill out and buttons they should click large and eye-catching with contrasting colors. You may also want to limit the number of fields they need to fill out to simplify the process.

  1. Offer lead magnets.

If you are trying to capture a potential new patient’s information so you can follow up with them and hopefully convert them to a patient, you may need to create an incentive. Many people are now more reluctant to share their email address, name, or phone number without receiving something in exchange. A lead magnet solves this problem.
A lead magnet is a specific piece of content you give the person once they submit their contact information. Your lead magnet could be an eBook, webinar, video, report, quiz, or online course. In creating your lead magnet, consider the content your ideal new patient would be most interested in receiving, or the problem they most need solved.

  1. Try guest blogging.

When you write a guest article for someone else’s blog, you gain more publicity for your practice and you demonstrate your expertise in the subject. However, guest blogging is also an opportunity to generate new leads.
Most blogs allow the guest author to include a short biography, which is where you can include a link to your website. Rather than linking your bio to your website homepage, use this opportunity to instead link to a special landing page that will be of greatest interest to those who have read the guest article you wrote.
With these simple steps, you can greatly increase your chances of gaining new leads with content marketing. To learn more about how you can implement these steps and further enhance your content marketing, we encourage you to contact us today at AudiologyPlus.

Photo-sharing as an audiological rehabilitation tool

How Photo-Sharing Can Help Support People with Hearing Loss

As a hearing healthcare professional, sound is probably the most common sense you work with. This makes sense, as most of your patients come to you for help when they cannot hear in the way that they used to or believe they should be able to. However, what if visual information could also play a role in helping you care for your patients’ hearing health needs?
That is the goal of photo-sharing. Photo-sharing is the use of images taken by your patients to better understand their needs, facilitate communication, and enhance audiological counseling. Thanks to the ubiquitous technology of smartphones and their built-in cameras, most patients have easy access to a camera that is with them at nearly all times. The photos they take can then be used during discussions with their hearing health professionals to assess difficulties and successes with their hearing treatment, as well as encourage communication with their family members about hearing-related challenges.
A recent study highlighted the uses and benefits of photo-sharing in the audiological setting. This study was conducted at the National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research (NCRAR) in Portland, OR. In the study, participants attended two research visits. In the first visit, they were given direction on what type of photos to take and why. In the second visit, participants discussed their photos during a debriefing session, and the photos were then used to aid in counseling.
For the purposes of this study, participants were split into three groups, and each group was instructed to take a different type of photo. The first group was asked to take photos of situations in which they encountered hearing difficulties. The second group was instructed to take photographs of normal daily activities in which they found their new hearing aids to be particularly helpful or problematic. The third group, along with their “communication partner” (such as their spouse), was directed to take photos of typical shared daily activities in which communication was a problem.
In the follow-up visits, researchers found that the participants were willing to take their own photos and share them as part of their audiological care. They also reported that the participants would be willing to take photos and share them with their hearing healthcare professionals as well.
In the first group, the photos of situations where the participants encountered hearing difficulties were used to discuss communication strategies they could use in those situations. In the second group, the photos of activities in which participants’ hearing aids proved especially difficult or helpful were used to troubleshoot specific problems, as well as to encourage continued use of the hearing aids. In the third group, the photos of shared activities that presented communication difficulties were used to compare each participant’s perspective and suggest solutions.
The participants of the study found photo-sharing to be very helpful in finding new communication solutions. For example, one participant showed a photo of his wife sitting at the kitchen table, and he described that he had difficulty understanding her during mealtime. One researcher noticed that the wife was backlit in the photo. This observation allowed the researcher to suggest that the participant had difficulty understanding his wife because the lighting did not allow him to read her facial cues, and the researcher recommended changing their seating arrangement at mealtimes to correct this issue. Without photos, this situation would have been very difficult for the participant to fully convey to a hearing professional.
Participants remarked that their counseling sessions with photo-sharing were productive, and they also found increased appreciation for their hearing aids as a result of participation in the study. For those in the third group who brought a communication partner with them, they appreciated the opportunity to discuss communication problems that usually did not come up in conversation. Furthermore, one participant reported that they began telling others what they were doing when they took photos, which helped their friends better understand situations that presented hearing difficulties.
Based on the results of the study, the researchers recommend that hearing healthcare professionals incorporate photo-sharing when possible to enhance counseling and communication with their patients. Photo-sharing can also be used to provide the best possible recommendation for assistive technology, as the photos reveal the type of environment the patient spends the greatest amount of time in.
To learn more about the exciting opportunities available with photo-sharing and other ways you can enhance your hearing practice with new technology, we welcome you to contact us today at AudiologyPlus.

Kindness & Integrity in Business

How Kindness & Integrity Can Grow Your Business

If you have a personal account on a social media network like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, you have likely seen one of the viral posts showcasing a business owner or employee’s kindness. For example, have you ever seen a post singing the praises of a grocery store cashier who paid for a customer’s purchases when they fell short on payment? Or a fast-food employee who removed an umbrella from an outside table to walk an elderly customer to their car in the rain?
Stories like these may seem plentiful, but they still strike an emotional chord each time we read about them. However, it turns out that stories like this have an effect greater than simply making you “feel good” or admire the kindness shown. Stories of kindness, such as these, can also generate online buzz about the company and lead to a jump in business. Some stories have a local effect, while others have international reach.
Kindness in your business does more than make your customers “feel good,” too. It encourages them to keep coming back because they are happy with the service they receive at your business and admire your staff’s values. And, if they have a good enough experience, they will likely tell their friends and family about how great your business is as well. This could turn into new customers for you, simply because you provided an act of kindness and great service to your customer.
When this reaches the Internet, it has an even wider impact. The examples I mentioned above, for instance, were recorded by someone other than the people directly involved in the act of kindness. Those who recorded the events then shared them online, which is what gained such attention. If other people notice your business’s kindness, they may share it online, which could boost your business’s online presence.
So, encourage your employees to be kind. Be an example of going the extra mile to keep your customers happy and to provide them with exceptional service. Make it clear that providing excellent care is more important than the extra minute it will take from their day.
And if you notice one of your employees showing some extra great care, don’t be afraid to snap a photo or write about it on your social media page. Current and potential new customers will be happy to see that your business encourages a culture of kindness—and does more than just “talk the talk.”
In addition to showing kindness, it is important to demonstrate that your business is also ethical. There are a few simple ways you can present your business as an ethical one:

  1. Keep your promises.

This goes for promises to your customers, your staff, and your business partners. Always honor your word and keep your promises, whether it’s before, during, or after the point of sale.

  1. Provide value to your customers.

There is a reason your customers (i.e., your patients) come to see you: they need help with their hearing healthcare, and they trust you to provide that care. Show that your business is ethical by always providing a high-quality experience to your patients that is focused on the value and care they receive.

  1. Show personal integrity.

Have you ever seen a coworker outside of work, acting in a way that is completely different from their workplace personality? Don’t let yourself get caught in this type of dishonesty. Be ethical and show integrity as a matter of personal habit, no matter where you are.

  1. Maintain integrity in your management practices.

If you treat your staff poorly, your customers will notice. Treat your entire team with integrity and kindness, whether they are a part-time receptionist, a custodian, an accountant, or a medical professional.
When you demonstrate that your business values and promotes integrity and kindness, your customers will want to keep coming back for years to come. To learn more about the importance of ethics and kindness in business, we welcome you to contact us at AudiologyPlus. We are here to help your business thrive.

Google Local Algorithm

What You Need to Know about How the Google Local Algorithm Works

It is no secret that audiology businesses depend on local business. While you may occasionally treat a patient from out of town who has an emergency need while visiting your city, the huge majority of your patients are from your local area.
So, the way your business’s website performs in Google’s local algorithm is going to have an impact on how many new patients find and choose your practice when they are looking for an audiologist. The local algorithm is what determines which businesses are shown in the “three-pack.” The three-pack comprises the three businesses listed with the map at the top of the results page when you perform a Google search for a local business, like a plumber, a dentist, or yes, an audiologist. You want your practice to appear in that three-pack, prominently displayed as a top result for local Google users.
Three main factors play a role in getting your business into the three-pack.

  1. Proximity

First, is your business actually located in the area where the Google user is searching? It may seem a little “big brother”-like, but Google pretty much always knows where you are. If you are using a computer, Google can usually tell which zip code you are located in. if you are using a phone to perform your search, Google can typically pinpoint your exact location fairly accurately.
The closer your business is to where the person is located when they search, the greater your chances of appearing in the three-pack. Be sure your address is listed on your website and your Google My Business listing so Google can accurately determine your proximity in local searches.

  1. Prominence

Prominence, simply put, is how important Google thinks you are. They determine this based on a few factors that help them see that you are a real business with real customers. To improve your prominence, you should focus on links, reviews, citations, and store visits.
Reviews are a big part of determining prominence. If you have a good number of reviews, especially dating back a couple of years (to show that you are not a brand-new business and that you have established customers), this will boost your prominence.

  1. Relevance

Relevance measures whether Google thinks your business and your website match what the user is searching for. This means that the content on your website needs to fit the query the user has typed into the search window. To show Google that your business is relevant, you should pay attention to factors like:

  • Your website content (making sure you have content that answers questions users will search for)
  • Onsite SEO (like meta tags, title tags, etc.)
  • Citations (to prove you are actually located in the city where the person is searching)
  • Categories (part of your Google My Business listing)
  • Your business name (your relevance ranking may improve if certain keywords are included in your business name)
  • Review content (keywords in reviews also play a role in improving relevance)

As you work to improve these three factors in your business’s online presence, you will increase your likelihood of being included in the coveted three-pack. To learn more about the local algorithm and how you can gain more new patients online, please contact us today at AudiologyPlus. With over 20 years of experience in marketing, we are ready to help you grow your business.

Social media strategy

Five Simple Steps for Defining Your Social Media Strategy

By now, you have probably heard about how important social media is to your business and online marketing. This may have motivated you to create social media pages for your practice, and maybe inspired a few posts on those pages. But even if you have created social media pages and are posting to them, do you have a defined social media strategy for your business?
If not, it’s more likely than not that you are missing out on a great opportunity to connect with your patients, increase brand awareness and perception, demonstrate your outstanding customer service, and continue growing your customer base. While formulating a social media strategy may seem like a complicated endeavor, it can be broken down into just a few simple steps. Here’s how you can get started:

  1. Do some research and evaluate your competitors’ social media content.

Look at the social media pages run by your competitors. What kind of content do they share? What tone of voice do they use? How well are they engaging their audience?
Pay attention to what seems to be working well for your competitors and what simply falls flat with their audience. This way, you can avoid doing the things that are obviously not working – and you can start doing more of the things that are working well.

  1. Determine where your target audience is most active.

You need to know where your patients (and potential new patients) are spending their time when it comes to social media. Do they flock to Facebook, or are they more interested in Instagram?
You can also analyze what type of content seems to be most interesting and engaging to your audience. This may also vary by platform. Do they prefer videos or photos? Short jokes and puns or long-form content? Statistics or a shared positive review? Be where your audience is, and give them the content they like.

  1. Set specific, measurable goals.

You can use the acronym SMART to help you set good goals. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Use these guidelines to align your social media goals with your overall business objectives.
For example, “Increase number of followers on Facebook,” is a good goal. A better goal, however, would be, “Increase Facebook followers to 2,000 within three months by using more video- and image-based content.” This gives you something specific, measurable, and time-bound so you can easily assess whether you have met your goal and, if not, where you fell short and stand to improve.

  1. Personalize your communication and content.

Not all content will work equally well with all audience demographics. For example, what appeals to a 15-year-old is probably not the same as what engages a 60-year-old. Content and communication styles also vary based on the social media channel. If you want to post long-form content, consider LinkedIn or Facebook. If you have a video to share, Instagram or Facebook are your best bets.
Make sure you are sharing high-quality content that accurately represents you and your practice. You should focus on creating engaging content that your followers (and your team members) will want to share.

  1. Monitor your progress.

It’s of no use to create a plan and set goals if you don’t monitor your progress and evaluate your success. Each social media channel offers analytic tools that allow you to see how your content is performing and how well it is reaching and engaging your audience. Use this data to assess your current performance, drive changes, and inform your new goals.
With these five simple steps, you are ready to create your own social media strategy. For more information about the importance of social media and how you can more effectively use social media to build your practice, we invite you to contact us today at AudiologyPlus. We are ready to help your business grow.

Pre-OTC hearing aids

What does Audiology Pre-OTC look like now that OTC hearing aids have hit the market?

As an audiologist, you have probably been aware for some time now that over-the-counter hearing aids were coming. And now, they have hit the market. So what does this mean for you as an audiologist, as well as for your practice?
If you are like many others in the field of audiology, the introduction of OTC hearing aids seems like a very likely disruption to the field. However, the truth of the matter is that over-the-counter hearing aids will not disrupt the profession of audiology. Rather, OTC hearing aids stand to disrupt the current hearing aid industry. For example, hearing device companies that have, in years past, developed more and more advanced and expensive devices stand to be disrupted by the convenient and affordable – yet limited – options presented by OTC devices.
Even these companies do not have to stand idly by as OTC hearing aids disrupt their business and take a chunk of their customers. Some hearing aid companies have chosen to create device models that compete directly with the OTC options.
And as for audiologists? Will your profession be suddenly obscure once over-the-counter hearing aids are widely available? Since you provide more services than devices alone, the answer should be a simple no. However, the threat felt by many audiologists points to a greater problem within the field.
This problem is well articulated by Sarah Sydlowski, AuD, PhD. She writes, “The real threat to audiology is the perception of the public that ‘hearing health care’ and ‘hearing aid’ are synonymous. The perception that OTC hearing aids stand to disrupt audiology exists because the term ‘audiology’ has become interchangeable with ‘device.’”
As she says, the true problem is that much of the public does not see a need for audiologists beyond prescribing and providing a device. The solution to this problem is to demonstrate the value of your profession beyond simply providing hearing aids. Emphasize the importance of hearing health care and how it extends beyond receiving hearing aids to manage hearing loss. Encourage patients to visit you to have their hearing health and ability evaluated, even if they will then select an OTC hearing aid.
In fact, you can take advantage of the up-and-coming OTC hearing aid business in your own practice. Rather than sending patients to pharmacies or big box stores to get their devices, you can offer over-the-counter hearing aids right in your own office.
In addition, you can work to build value and demonstrate to the public and your patients that audiology is not an irrelevant, unnecessary field. You can show that you do not exist only to provide hearing aids. Here are a few ways you can do that:

  • Thanks to the introduction of OTC hearing aids, hearing loss is being discussed in the media at a greater rate than before. Take advantage of this! Direct the conversation on hearing to the importance of audiologists and how you provide value.
  • Emphasize the importance of having a professional hearing evaluation before deciding to use any hearing device – OTC or otherwise.
  • Make sure people understand that an inappropriate hearing device is just as detrimental as no device.
  • Support advocacy efforts that will improve the public’s access to quality hearing health care and will impact audiologists’ reimbursement.
  • Make your “invisible” services, like patient counseling, visible by billing for every service provided and itemizing.

By following these steps and building value in your profession, you can ensure that your field and your business are not threatened, but rather bolstered, by the introduction of OTC hearing aids. To learn more about how you can take advantage of this exciting time of change and innovation in audiology, we invite you to contact us today at AudiologyPlus. We are dedicated to helping your business succeed.