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“As COVID-19 forces many seniors into isolation, outdated Medicare requirements limit their ability to access the audiology services they need,” the letter states.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

8 Things Your Audiology Website Needs Right Now

8 Things Your Audiology Website Needs Right Now

Simply having a website is a great step towards helping your audiology practice grow. Now that you have a website, you should consider exactly what you put on your site. Here are 8 things your audiology website needs right now:
Great content
People come to your website looking for answers. It’s as simple as that. Your content should provide the answers to the questions they have.
Remember that people’s questions will vary widely, so your content should be broad enough to answer many types of questions. Consider questions you are frequently asked in your office or via the phone, and answer those questions are your website. These might include questions relating to hearing topics (e.g., “What is a hearing aid”? “Do I need hearing aids?” “What is tinnitus?”, etc.), as well as those relating to your office (e.g., “What are your hours?” “Where are you located?” “What are your qualifications?”, etc.)
Telehealth
While many offices were already beginning to incorporate telehealth into their practice model, the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdowns around the world have only highlighted the importance of telehealth.
Telehealth services like myVirtualClinic enable you to care for your patients without seeing them in your office. This can save time for your patients (and your staff, too) and can make it easier for patients to reach you.
Social media
Social media isn’t just for teenagers anymore! Businesses need a strong presence on social media as well. You should have a dedicated page for your audiology practice on all main social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. (You can branch out beyond these if you want to!)
Of course, it isn’t enough to simply create a social media page and abandon it. Patients (both existing and potential) want to see that you actually interact with your customers. Be sure to reply to any comments or questions that are left on your page, as well as reviews. It’s also important to post regularly so your practice is kept fresh in the minds of your patients.
Individualism
Unless you are located in a very small town, chances are there are multiple audiology practices in your area. This means that potential patients have a choice of whom they give their business too. In order to win their business, you need to stand out!
There are a few ways you can do this on your website. Include photos of your office and your team. Consider including biographies as well, so your patients can get to know your team before coming in. You might also want to showcase your practice philosophy online, which can highlight how you are different from the others. Positive reviews are another good way to feature what’s great about your practice and why patients should choose you.
Opportunities to sell
Although the optimal setting for selling a hearing aid might be at your office—once you have completed a hearing test and provided a professional consultation—you shouldn’t pass up on opportunities to sell on your website. This can be as simple as listing out (with images, too) the hearing aid tools available through your practice.
eCommerce can be powerful, too. This allows people to buy directly from your website rather than coming to your office.
Great imagery
The old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” is still true. Showcasing photos of your office and your team on your website can be a great way to help patients get to know you before they even step foot inside your practice. In addition, a website with eye-catching imagery is much more inviting to look at than one that’s only filled with 10 pt size type!
If possible, have some professional photos taken of your office. This can make a big difference in the quality of the photos and how they appear on your website. You can even have a “patient” (either a real patient or a family member of your staff) in the photos to highlight the level of care you provide.
Patient testimonials
You simply cannot go without patient testimonials on your website. One recent study found that 59.9% of patients chose their medical provider based on positive online reviews, and 60% said they have avoided a medical provider because of negative reviews.
Highlighting a few positive reviews on your website can do wonders for drawing new patients to your practice. If you don’t currently have any testimonials to showcase on your website, just ask your happy customers! Using a service like ReviewMe can also make it easy to continue gathering reviews.
Consistent branding
Have you ever visited a website for a business and wondered if that was actually their official website? You might not have been able to pinpoint the reason at the time, but your questioning was probably due to a lack of consistent branding.
The aim is to provide a consistent experience for your website visitors across your entire website—and the rest of your online presence as well, including your social media pages and any other online listings. This should include using the same logo and practice name. Make sure your office hours, phone number, and address are updated as well. You could even consider using colors on your website that are similar to the colors in your office for an especially consistent patient experience.
These 8 factors are essential to creating an audiology website that draws in new patients and helps your practice succeed. To learn more about how you can build your practice online, please contact us at AudiologyPlus. With over 20 years of experience in marketing, we have the experience and expertise you need to grow your business.

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.

How to Become a Telemedicine Provider

How to Become a Telemedicine Provider

Telehealth (or telemedicine) is completely changing the healthcare landscape and how practices offer essential services to their patients. By using telehealth, medical practices of all types and sizes can maintain patients’ health needs from anywhere, while generating more revenue and keeping costs down. And studies even show that telehealth is the type of service that patients increasingly prefer.
Get started with your telehealth plan by following the easy steps below:
Organize Your Goals for Your Practice
You should plan for and consider some key factors when moving toward a telemedicine program to ensure the transition is easy and successful. You should consider things like revenue, customer satisfaction, wait times, no-shows and cancellations, staff efficiency, patient retention, new patients, and any other measurements that are important for your practice.
Find the Right Partner
There are a lot of telehealth technology options available, but you will want to make sure you include things like:

  • HIPAA-compliance
  • 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 for a small investment. Just because you want to become more modernized, doesn’t mean you need to pay an arm and a leg!
Train Your Staff
Once you select your telehealth platform, you will want to train your staff and get them up to speed on the software. You may want to designate a few key employees who can become immersed in the process and teach others about how it works. Or you may want to designate specific roles to each employee and assign them features that will be part of their job duties (for example, your receptionist is responsible for the appointment scheduling portion while your office manager is responsible for the billing portion).
You can also easily test out the appointment feature with your staff so all of you are comfortable with the virtual platform.
Launch the Platform on Your Website
Whether you do a formal announcement or just add a link to your site, you will need to make the service available to your patients online. We recommend you add a link to the homepage, so it is easily accessible.
Release an Announcement to Your Current Patients and Market to Potential New Patients
You can do this by either emailing your current patients (if your records include email addresses) or you can add a banner image to your site. You will also want to post this update to your social media sites, as well. Any way you can spread the word!
While telehealth may be a new addition to your everyday practices, you may find that it is a very welcome option to ensure your patients receive the care they need. You will be more able to treat even more patients with ease.
To learn more about telehealth and video appointments, please contact us at AudiologyPlus!