Boost in Online Hearing Services

New Study Foresees a Boost in Online Hearing Services

As the world continues to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, it is becoming increasingly clear that some things will simply never be the same again. Other things may return to what was previously considered normal, but it will take time. Social distancing of six feet is being enforced in stores, restaurants, offices, and other public places, and certain businesses are requiring temperature checks before admitting entrance as well.
While this means you may be able to return to your favorite restaurant soon (with new restrictions and guidelines in place), what does it mean for your hearing practice? Will everything go back to “normal”?
According to a survey conducted in April 2020, your practice may not go back to normal—but that is not necessarily a bad thing. The survey was conducted in Spain, with 782 persons from the Spanish audiology industry taking part. It was carried out during the height of the lockdown in Spain, from April 20-24, 2020.
First, the survey revealed that most practices had taken a big hit to their business due to the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdown restrictions. In hearing aid sales, 77 percent of practices claimed they saw a 100 percent reduction in turnover from device fittings. 52 percent reported a similar loss of business in accessory sales, and 45 percent said they had registered zero income from repairs during the time in question.
Because of the reduction in sales and income, many practices reported they had had to take measures in regards to their staff. 76 percent said they had taken measures that affected employees, and 40 percent planned on a reduction in their overall business budget. 26 percent reported that they expected to spend in order to announce the reopening of their practices.
However, the survey reported more than only the business losses suffered by these Spanish audiology practices. Almost half of the participants said they believed an upturn in sales would come in the fall, around September or October. 20 percent of respondents, on the other hand, believed they would have to wait until 2021 to see an increase.
As for returning to “normal” practices, 61 percent of participants reported that they expect their sales revenue to continue coming through traditional channels. In other words, they expect that they will continue to make income through in-office visits and in-person appointments. 34 percent of respondents, however, foresaw a “mixed model” of business, with both online and offline services.
Many hearing practices have adopted a service model that is focused more on online services since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes virtual appointments, at which the hearing specialist and the patient meet online. As seen by the respondents to the survey in Spain, it is not expected that online services will cease once lockdown restrictions are lifted. Some patients may choose to continue virtual appointments, especially if they have health concerns and would prefer not to go to public spaces.
Because of this continuing shift to a mixture of online and offline services, it is essential that you are prepared to accommodate your clients, no matter how they prefer to meet with you. Telehealth services like myVirtualClinic are ready to help you easily make the shift to online hearing healthcare.
To learn more about the importance of offering online services at this time and how you can better meet the needs of your clients, we welcome you to contact us today at AudiologyPlus. We are eager to help you grow your business.

Brand messaging on social media - COVID-19

Brand Messaging on Social Media During a Time of Crisis

It is no secret that a lot has changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Around the world, people are staying home and practicing social isolation in order to curb the spread of the disease. Fewer people are going to work every day as they instead work from home, with their children home from school as well. Healthcare practices like your hearing practice are taking extra measures to ensure the safety and health of both staff and patients.
Limiting the number of patients who come to your office is likely one of these measures. You may have restricted your office to emergency or essential appointments only. With all these new guidelines and restrictions, it is important to recognize that your goal in using social media is now different than ever before.
Prior to this health crisis, it was essential to maintain a strong social media presence and to create a brand that attracted the notice of your target customers. Once they noticed your brand, your social media was one of the ways they could learn more about your practice and eventually become a patient. While you can still use social media to bring new patients to your practice, its role is different than ever before.
In this time of uncertainty, when their everyday lives are disrupted and they may have loved ones who are suffering or at risk for the virus, people want to see kindness and compassion. Take this opportunity to showcase that your practice truly cares for your patients. Share messages of encouragement, hope, and compassion on your social media pages.
Take steps to ensure that your patients feel cared for. If patients are canceling or rescheduling their appointments, consider waiving any usual fees for these changes. Be flexible with rescheduling, especially as most cities, counties, and states are uncertain of when “stay at home” restrictions will lift. Be compassionate, understanding, and accommodating when emergency situations arise.
Offer options to keep your patients cared for while in-office visits are limited. Telehealth technology is one way to ensure that your patients can still receive high-quality, personalized care while staying home. This form of healthcare utilizes telecommunications technology to allow you to see, talk to, evaluate, and care for patients without meeting them in person.
Since this can be done in most cases using a computer (laptop or desktop), tablet, or smartphone, most patients will have access to this type of appointment. For your patients who are unfamiliar with telecommunications technology (such as senior patients), be sure to provide clear, simple instructions and be ready to patiently answer questions.
Now is the time to use social media to offer genuine empathy and real value to your patients. When this time is over and life becomes more normalized again, you want your patients to remember your practice as one that truly cares. To learn more about how you can take advantage of tools like telehealth during this unique time, we invite you to contact us at AudiologyPlus today.

Using Telehealth to See Patients

Using Telehealth to See Patients

“We need to be ready for a new (environment). There’s no going back.”
-Alexa Boer Kimball, CEO of Harvard Medical Faculty Physicians at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Healthcare providers are scrambling to keep up with the demand for telehealth services and many are seeing unexpected benefits in the shift to virtual healthcare. Some providers hesitate to try telehealth because they are unsure about laws and how health insurance billing will work with video appointments, but actions by state and federal officials have loosened a lot of those barriers, allowing providers to test new platforms and see more reimbursement.
Telehealth (also known as telemedicine) is not a new idea; it has been used as far back as the late 90s. But now, it is a necessity so practitioners can continue treating patients more efficiently. Sometimes, in-person treatment isn’t possible, so integrating telehealth into your regular business practices ensures you will be able to offer your services regardless of the circumstances.
Are you utilizing telehealth to see patients? Integrating telehealth into your regular business practices is key, because:

  • Telehealth is an enhancement to your current business practices and makes your business more advanced. Just because you use telehealth, doesn’t mean you’re going to stop seeing patients in-person, but you can now treat your patients from anywhere.
  • You can be more efficient by delegating telehealth responsibilities to your employees, like appointment scheduling and billing.
  • You will be able to collect and track all your data, including correspondence with patients, billing accuracy, and treatment plans.

In order to execute a successful telehealth service, you will need to use a reliable provider.
Do some research. Do you know what you need? Do you know what you want to get out of a virtual platform? There are a lot of telehealth technology options available, but you will want to make sure you include things like:

  • Ease of use
  • HIPAA-compliance (video service through a secure portal)
  • A reliable connection
  • Availability in your state
  • Automated appointment booking and reminders
  • Secure video and file sharing
  • Branding for your business

You need to choose a technology that enables your practice to deploy an easy-to-use virtual platform that fits in seamlessly with your practice.
Once you commit to a platform, you will need to immerse yourself in it; Test it out, involve other employees who will be using the platform for scheduling and billing, and make sure all who need to use it are comfortable with it.
Finally, you will need to make sure you reach out to your patients. If you have their email addresses, you can easily reach out via email to let them know that telehealth is now an option for you to continue with their treatment. If you don’t have emails for your patients, that is ok! You can take some time to make follow-up calls to your patients (or designate this task to an employee who can schedule your appointments) and before you know it, you’ll be getting back to business.
We know how important your patients are, and telehealth is the bridge that will reconnect you. Whether your doors are open or closed, integrating telehealth into your regular business practices ensures you will be able to offer your services regardless of the circumstances. If a patient can’t travel into your office for their appointment, virtual appointments help solve their transportation problem. Plus, you can expand your business by offering virtual appointments to individuals who live remotely and don’t have a local practitioner available to them.
To learn more about telehealth, telemedicine and all things remote-healthcare, contact us at AudiologyPlus!

How to Succeed in a Virtual World as an Audiologist

How to Succeed in a Virtual World as an Audiologist

It is no secret that the healthcare field requires technology. Whether it be through testing or communication, technology is advancing healthcare business practices quickly. Traditional methods just don’t cut it anymore. So, how do you succeed in a virtual world as an audiologist?
Define Your Strategy
When you are considering telehealth, it is important to consider some key factors, like:

  • What services do you want to offer?
  • How do you want to process billing?
  • Are you going to handle a lot of the backend work or are you going to delegate it? And if you are, who is responsible for what?
  • Is the platform you are considering completely secure and HIPAA compliant? Can you offer it in your state?

All these questions should have firm answers that allow you to move forward with confidence.
Choose a Provider Who is Reliable and Efficient
There are a lot of free video providers (like Zoom, Skype and Facetime) and while those are great, they are not secure or compliant with HIPAA. We probably don’t have to stress to you the importance of security. You will want to find a provider (like myVirtualClinic) that can offer a secure portal, so the patient’s information gated and protected.
Commit and Train Your Employees
Whether you want to use this exclusively or delegate roles to people in your office, you will want to decide how you integrate the service into your business practice and integrate your employees, so they have a grasp on what is expected of them.
Test Out Your New Platform
Once your platform is live and you can poke around, make sure you set up mock appointments and have some employees test it out with you. You want to make sure you are completely comfortable with it and get any questions answered from your provider before you offer it to your patients.
Embrace Technology!
When you make the decision to offer telehealth services, that opens many more doors for you, including:

  • Treating more patients (expanding your reach to target more areas)

Rural areas lack audiologists and one study showed that more than half of all U.S. counties do not have any audiologists.

  • Limitless potential

Many hearing aid brands come with accompanying smartphone apps so a hearing care provider can remotely program a person’s hearing aids via the app

  • Support for patients who have limited mobility or cannot drive

A lot of older patients must rely on others to get them to appointments. This virtual option can be set up for them and give them more flexibility.

  • Ease of use

Tele Audiology allows you to see more patients and process payments through the tele audiology portal securely and efficiently

  • People are shown to be receptive to Telehealth (or Tele-Audiology)

A recent audiology study, 20 participants with dementia were fitted at the university clinic with hearing aids, which were paired to a smartphone app, managed by their caregivers. Researchers monitored wearing time, program use, and the patient’s satisfaction in different real-world listening conditions. The staff could remotely change noise reduction and other algorithms and communicate through real-time video calls, as well as text and voice chat services. The results: Caregivers rated the participants “general comprehension” as 4.5 on average on a 5-point scale in the telehealth period, compared to 2.7 when they weren’t using the remote service. Caregivers said the remote service decreased their stress and improved the patients’ “alertness” and “awareness.”

  • Telehealth can potentially improve the Audiology field as a whole

The current goal of telehealth audiology is convenience but over time, it could bring down hearing aid prices. While regulations and insurance coverage vary by state, the trend is towards more coverage of telehealth.

  • Less overhead

Efficiency saves money!
Building a successful tele-audiology program includes these tips. If you have any questions about telehealth or adapting to technology as an audiologist, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at AudiologyPlus! We are here to support you.

How to Continue Serving Your Patients During Lockdown

How to Continue Serving Your Patients During Lockdown

You don’t need us to tell you that this time is unprecedented. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected individuals, families, and businesses worldwide. Although much of the population throughout the United States is under “stay at home” orders, you do not need to miss out on all of their business. During this time, you can take advantage of new technologies and strategies to continue to care for your patients and build your practice.

  • Keep communicating with your patients.

A lot of things are uncertain at this time. Do not let your patients feel uncertain about your practice.
Establish clear lines of communication to keep your patients updated on your practice and your services. You can send emails to your patient list, or call those who need more personal, direct contact for issues like canceling or changing appointments. Social media is a great way to communicate with a broad audience at once.
In addition to updating your patients about changes at your practice (such as different office hours or limited appointment types), use this opportunity to convey your care for your patients, your employees, and everyone who is suffering at this time.

  • Bring in new help.

You know that now is a time to take advantage of new technologies and avenues of productivity. However, you may also know that technology is not your strong suit. If this is the case, it might be the right time to bring in help. You may need to hire a new team member who specializes in social media, telehealth technology, or other types of remote technology.
If new weaknesses appear in your business as you adapt to this unique time, take the opportunity to fix the problem rather than becoming frustrated. Try adding new technologies or programs to your business’s repertoire to meet these new challenges.
You might also need more help from a company like AudiologyPlus, which specializes in digital marketing for hearing practices.

In most states and cities around the country, only employees who have been deemed “essential” are permitted to go to work at this time. If your team is not essential, you may be working remotely. Even if your practice is permitted to stay open, you will likely be looking for ways to cut down on the number of patients who need to come to your office. It’s likely your patients will also want to avoid going out whenever possible, unless they are experiencing an emergency situation.
Rather than missing out on the business of all of these patients and leaving them without professional care, utilize telehealth technologies. This type of health care uses telecommunication technology to allow you to meet with and care for your patients without seeing them in person. Using a laptop, tablet, or even smartphone, you can see and talk to your patients, evaluate their needs, and provide the information and care they need.
In addition to cutting down on your team’s exposure to other people, as well as limiting your patients’ exposure, you can also cut costs at this time by utilizing telehealth technology.
This time of isolation can be an opportunity for you to reach and care for your patients in new ways. If you would like to learn more about how your business can continue to succeed during this unique time, please contact us at AudiologyPlus.