How to Communicate Your Virtual Services to Patients

How to Communicate Your Virtual Services to Patients

The world of audiology has changed; and it’s never going back to the way it was. The COVID-19 pandemic has completely shifted how patients look for your services as well as how they engage with you.  Add in health concerns, new technology, and unclear state laws, and there’s a lot of confusion on what the future of audiology looks like. 

But you can look at the situation, put your tail between your legs and hope the world goes “back to normal,” or you can seize this opportunity to advance your business and bring hearing healthcare into the modern world.  

Outdated technology and processes create challenges across an overburdened healthcare system. Practices can experience increased costs, alienated patients, and inferior outcomes across the healthcare system if updates are not made.

Virtual Services include:

  1. Tele-Audiology

Tele-Audiology is an opportunity to expand and grow your practice. Once you decide to offer tele-audiology, you may be wondering what the best way is to release this information to current and potential patients. Unless it is something the patient specifically needs, they often don’t know that their provider offers it within their services. If you don’t create and execute a formal announcement, you will miss a unique opportunity to bring in a lot more business.

This is where marketing and education is invaluable for providers.

2. E-Commerce

E-Commerce delivers automatic revenue; it has grown 241% since 2019, illustrating a clear opportunity for audiology professionals to capitalize.

By allowing patients to purchase through your website, you reduce the number of “drop-ins” (and non-revenue-generating activities are more important than ever, especially with sanitation requirements), people can get their supplies from the comforts of their home and with OTC hearing aids on the horizon, it’s also a great opportunity for your business to expand its product line and profit from these new additions. 

Plus, from a digital marketing perspective, e-commerce offers a ton of SEO benefits.

So, You Are A Virtual Powerhouse – How Do You Let Everyone Know?

Whether through signage and flyers, the practice’s website, referrals or online advertising, practices can reap the benefits of virtual services almost immediately. Promotion can attract new patients and generate additional revenue, provide convenience and more immediate attention to patients and furnish more affordable care options for patients.

Current Patients

You will want to let your current patients know that you are offering virtual services so they can take advantage of it. Their follow-up visits or check-ins can become much more streamlined. Prior to launch, you may want to collect emails or pull a list from your data base of current patients you will want to notify. If you don’t want to use email, you will probably want to consider mentioning this new service on your voicemail recording or by telling your staff to mention it every time they talk to a patient, especially if they are a regular patient who requires products to maintain their hearing health (they will probably be thrilled to learn they can buy all of their maintenance products from you!) You will also want to update your website. You can add a banner to the homepage or even add a whole new page entirely that details the new service.

New Patients

When you want to get new patients’ attention, having virtual services can make or break their decision. It is very important to be accessible! Regardless of the status of the COVID-19 pandemic, you want your patients to feel like they can reach you. First, you will want to make sure you update your online listing with virtual service information so any new patients who are searching for information will see the virtual option quickly. You could also consider offering a “new patient deal” by allowing them to book a virtual consultation for free or a discounted rate; that way you can hear about their needs and determine the best course of action prior to an in-person appointment. Or you can offer a deal for first time customers who use your online store to buy their hearing-related products.

Overall Marketing

You will also want to announce your virtual services on your social media accounts. And be sure to use hashtags like “#telehealth or “#teleaudiology” to make sure you also trend in the right categories. Depending on your budget, you can also consider creating some online ads that can run on these channels to include information about your service, any deal you may want to offer and how they can best in get contact with you to take advantage of it. You may also want to consider some more traditional forms of local marketing and maybe get an ad done for your local paper.

Final Thoughts Of course, not all healthcare visits can be handled via video or phone. There are times when a provider needs to examine or treat a patient in person. But experienced telehealth providers say that’s the beauty of telehealth: They’re able to conserve time so that they have more time to spend with the patients who really need their attention in person. Don’t let the virtualization of your practice become intimidating. With the right platform and the right provider, you can easily incorporate virtual services into your everyday practice.

Renee Shumaker, MA-A

How to Provide Audiology Services Without Face to Face Contact

How to Provide Audiology Services Without Face to Face Contact

The pandemic has forced a lot of changes in healthcare, but this is especially true for hearing professionals. Through these changes, hearing professionals have the unique opportunity to develop meaningful patient interactions and provide services to those who may otherwise have no access to much-needed care. In-person appointments are imperative to properly evaluate those with hearing difficulties. But what if things can be easier? What if things can be different?

In May 2020, a group led by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC) sent a letter to Congressional leaders asking to include provisions of the Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act in COVID-19 relief packages.

“As COVID-19 forces many seniors into isolation, outdated Medicare requirements limit their ability to access the audiology services they need,” the letter states. “Unlike other government programs and private insurers, including Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare currently mandates that beneficiaries obtain a physician order before they are allowed to access an audiologist, even for a hearing test.”

“Medicare laws have never been updated to reclassify audiologists from suppliers to practitioners,” the letter continues. “Due to this shortfall, audiologists are excluded from health professionals who are authorized by statute to be reimbursed for services provided through telehealth.”

Hearing health and balance are essential, just like other aspects of a person’s health and wellness. Maintaining hearing and balance enables someone to participate in daily activities, prevent injury, and promote a high quality of life. Just as they should not delay seeking care for other health conditions, patients should not delay seeking and obtaining professional hearing assessment and treatment.

Here is how you can move forward with virtual options in hearing services.

Adopt Virtual Tools

Pioneering clinicians are tackling access limitations—via mobile apps, virtual video and more—and finding that patient outcomes are not only just as good as face-to-face interactions, but potentially better in providing greater patient satisfaction.

  1. Tele-Audiology (also generally known as “telehealth” or “telemedicine”)

A large volume of research reported that telehealth interventions produce positive outcomes. The most consistent benefit has been reported when telehealth is used for communication and counseling or remote monitoring in chronic conditions.[1] You can perform consultation appointments, follow-up appointments and troubleshooting appointments over video; you can reserve your in-person appointment time for hearing evaluations and hearing aid fitting appointments.

Tele-audiology doesn’t require much to implement. With the right software and training, audiologists have an exciting opportunity to be on the forefront of e-health as our nation moves toward non-traditional methods of care.

  • E-commerce – An Important Option That Delivers Products Safely

E-commerce allows you to sell products to anyone, anywhere, any time. With e-commerce, buyers can access your store on-the-go or from the comforts of their own home.

You may be thinking, “Ok, e-commerce SOUNDS simple, but it’s probably not that simple” and honestly, you are right; e-commerce takes a lot of work if you want to create a store from scratch. You will need to develop an online store, manage inventory, and ship goods regularly. All of this can create a lot more work than you would like to take on. But there are some e-commerce applications that come complete with a full range of popular audiology products, preloaded onto your e-commerce store. They also take care of shipping and tax, so you don’t have to deal with any of the complicated behind-the-scenes details. Plus, with OTC hearing aids on the horizon, you should seriously consider incorporating e-commerce into your practice.

Offer Support For Digital Services

Technology may not be every ones’ cup of tea; for example, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed by transitioning to virtual service options. But that is OK! A lot of these digital options have additional support to help you and your patients feel comfortable using them.

Additional forms of support can include:

  • Website pages with more information about the virtual services and how they work
  • More content including FAQs
  • Add a link that allows patients to make their own virtual appointments based on your availability

For your current patients, you will also want to consider creating an email campaign letting them know that they have this service available to them.

For new (and current) patients, you will want to release this news on social media and maybe add a banner to your website so they can’t miss it.

Collaboration Is Key

With anything new, collaboration is so crucial to ensure success. And hearing professionals are not the only ones’ who have been navigating virtual services; device manufacturers and other suppliers will make virtualization that much better.

Prior to the pandemic, work and product design supporting the delivery of audiology services without face-to-face client interactions was just a bonus to the continuation of hearing health care services. Now, it’s almost essential.

In the article 2021 Audiology Outlook: Leaders Weigh in on Key Issues Impacting the Industry, ADA President Victor Bray, PhD said, “It is not uncommon in a crisis to create a new environment where what was an optional, low-utilization tool suddenly becomes a critical high-utilization tool. Such is the case for the practice of audiology and telehealth, especially regarding the remote assessment and programming of hearing devices.”

Virtualization is fast-approaching and not just because of the pandemic; it will enhance and modernize the way hearing professionals do business.

Face-To-Face Appointments Can Still Happen, But Virtual Options Streamline Your Business

The point of this article isn’t to convince you that all in-person appointments are no longer a possibility; this article is meant to educate you on the possibilities that come from virtualization.

While adopting telehealth has been slow due to these reimbursement concerns, there is change happening. Recent policy changes during the COVID-19 pandemic have reduced barriers to telehealth access and have promoted the use of telehealth as a way to deliver acute, chronic, primary and specialty care. [2]

It is imperative to recognize when there are opportunities for face-to-face time or telehealth and that spending some time addressing the digital literacy gap will only help patients become more effective users of the technology necessary to access care remotely.

There is no doubt that audiology private practices can thrive with more virtualization, but it is up to you to adapt and embrace the changes.


[1]Annette M Totten 1Dana M Womack 1Karen B Eden 1Marian S McDonagh 1Jessica C Griffin 1Sara Grusing 1William R Hersh 1 Telehealth: Mapping the Evidence for Patient Outcomes From Systematic Reviews (2016). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27536752/

[2] Using Telehealth to Expand Access to Essential Health Services during the COVID-19 Pandemic (June 10, 2020). https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/telehealth.html

Social Media - How Important Is It To Your Business

Social Media: How Important Is It To Your Business?

You have probably arrived at this article (welcome!) because you are wondering if social media is really THAT important for hearing professionals. Some questions you may ask yourself include:

Why is Social Media Marketing so important for my Hearing Clinic? 

If I do it myself, am I sharing the right content? 

If I pay someone to do it, are they sharing the right content?   

Why is original content better than 3rd party content? 

Can I have a platform that allows for both professional management and allows for me to share content as well? 

With so many questions, you may be unsure if you are doing the right thing. Let’s review the basics and make sure you are investing the appropriate time and resources into your social media strategy. 

Social Media for Hearing Professionals 

Social Media is the reason many businesses, including audiology and hearing clinics, have seen such rapid growth. Here is why:  

  • Overall, about 49% of the world’s population has a social media account. That’s 3.8 BILLION users across the globe. (Source: Emarsys) 
  • Broken down, that number is approximately 90.4% of Millennials, 77.5% of Generation X, and 48.2% of Baby Boomers use social media in some form. (Source: eMarketer) 
  • Also, 54% of social browsers use social media to research products and services before they buy. (Source: GlobalWebIndex) 

Products and services are exactly what we as hearing professionals are providing. How many times have you had to explain why the $199 amplifier advertised on TV or Facebook is different from what you are providing? Sometimes, the ad on Facebook will reflect some negative comments about said product. In the same way, you can be generating positive comments. 

A few years back, we could do some cold calling, send some direct mail advertising, and maybe even some emails and the leads would come pouring into our clinics. Not anymore. Conventional marketing methods are not only no longer effective, and even pay-per-click advertising can be so expensive that the return on investment isn’t worth it! 

Social Media – A Place For Business To Grow 

The likelihood that a consumer will recommend a brand (or provider) on social media to others after having a positive experience is about 71%. (Source: Ambassador) However, we need to ask for it and provide a place for them to leave the reviews and comments. It makes sense, if people are going to voice a concern or a compliment, they want to do it where they’ll be heard, and get a response.  

Social media is the first place people go to voice their opinion, good or bad. And the effort you make on social media could make or break your reputation online. 

Social media is also an ideal place to enhance your content marketing; content marketing is more important than ever. A few great articles, carefully (with professional SEO) shared over social media platforms, inform, and add value. They help build trust and add value to the products and services YOU are providing. So, you can take the opportunity to post information on social media that shows potential patients what makes you unique. This is a chance for you to connect with your audience. 

The Bottom Line 

How easy is it for people to find your business online? If you are relying completely on your website, it’s very difficult. And what about your name? Does a search provide the correct results? You may think that has nothing to do with social media, and it can all be very confusing, but it all ties together. 

It is very important for you to have a simple way to access and track this data (preferably all in one place). You don’t have time to be searching through emails and reading reports. You should be able to see what is going to be posted to your social media accounts, add to it, and monitor it, or leave it alone and know that it is doing exactly what it is designed to do – engage your current clients and customers, all while driving more clients and customers in your door. 

Finally, I’ll leave you with this: 

“Add up everything you spend monthly on traditional marketing and digital ads. Now look at that number and realize that you could have reached at least a 100X more potential customers through strategic social media marketing. 

Let that sink in. 

It’s true that most of those views and interactions wouldn’t actually translate into leads, but it’s the same with the conventional methods – not every phone call turns into a warm lead, nor does an ad read signify a sale. Spend your marketing dollars where they count. Right now, they count on social media platforms.” – quote from assetdigital.com. 

Renee Shumaker, MA-A

Sources: 

https://www.zendesk.com/blog/customer-service-through-social-media/

https://www.audiologyonline.com/ask-the-experts/social-media-important-for-marketing-13184 

Fixed and growth mindset icons, linear vector

Growth Mindset Versus Fixed Mindset in Audiology: How Your Attitude Affects Your Potential

“If you imagine less, less will be what you undoubtedly deserve” – Debbie Millman

In recent years, modern psychology has shown how belief systems about our own abilities can fuel our behavior and predict our success. Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck synthesized in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, that the power of our beliefs (both conscious and unconscious) and changing even the simplest of them can have profound impact on nearly every aspect of our lives.

One of the most basic principles we carry about ourselves is our belief in who we are and our personality traits. Are we “go-getters” or leaders? Are we good at working within teams or do we prefer to work independently? Do we take feedback well or do we avoid criticism? A lot of these question’s answers are based on how you see yourself and your personality or your mindset.

The Growth Mindset

A growth mindset isn’t just about growing your business and accepting more to gain more; a growth mindset means you are willing to accept new things that may challenge you so you can become better or more skillful.

You may be thinking, “of course I have a growth mindset” because no one wants to necessarily admit that they don’t support growth – but you may be more resistant to change than you think.

A growth mindset includes behaviors such as:

  • Applying effort to acquire new skills
  • Finding inspiration in others
  • Perseveres when facing failure
  • Embraces change and challenges
  • Accepts criticisms
  • A desire to learn

Another way to determine if you have a growth mindset is if you identify with any of the following thoughts:

  • “Challenges help me grow”
  • “Educating myself about new technology is exciting”
  • “My effort and attitude determine my abilities”
  • “I like to try new things”

Fixed Mindset

A fixed mindset can be easily described as your comfort zone; you know what you know so why change it, or “why fix what isn’t broken?”

A lot of people don’t realize that this kind of mindset is incredibly limiting, especially for hearing health professionals. Just like your patients need to adapt to their hearing aids, you need to adapt to the needs of your industry.

A fixed mindset includes behaviors such as:

  • Avoids challenges
  • Gives up easily
  • Threatened by others success
  • Cowers to challenges
  • Resists change
  • Ignores feedback
  • Remains fixed on the old while avoiding anything new

Another way to determine if you have a fixed mindset is if you identify with any of the following thoughts:

  • “Either I am good at it or I’m not”
  • “If I don’t understand it immediately, I am not doing it”
  • “If this takes too much time, I can’t do it”
  • “I need to just stick to what I know”

Time to Adapt and Embrace Challenges

If the coronavirus pandemic taught us anything, it is the importance of adapting to change. But even without the coronavirus, change is bound to happen whether we like it or not.

One thing that is very true in hearing healthcare is that we are all used to remaining in our comfort zones. We perform a variety of evaluations, sell hearing aids, help patients with a variety of hearing conditions and try to keep our practices running smoothly. But if something changes and you can’t see patients in-person, your business is at risk for completely falling apart.

New technology and software can be very intimidating and is usually the number one thing that people resist, especially in the hearing healthcare field. But with the right service provider and partner, you can succeed and grow, regardless of the challenges you face. You can sell products. You can see patients virtually. You can completely streamline your business practices with new technology. You can thrive if you’re willing to accept new challenges as opportunities.

Conclusion

At the core, the difference between growth versus fixed is a passion for learning rather than a hunger for approval. Dweck writes:

“Why waste time proving over and over how great you are, when you could be getting better? Why hide deficiencies instead of overcoming them? Why look for friends or partners who will just shore up your self-esteem instead of ones who will also challenge you to grow? And why seek out the tried and true, instead of experiences that will stretch you? The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.”

If you want to thrive, Audiology Plus’s software for hearing health professionals will help you reach new heights at your practice. Contact us today to learn more.

Renee Shumaker, MA-A