The 3 things your patients want now

The 3 Things Your Patients Want Now

Although running a business can be incredibly complex, it all comes down to one thing: giving your customers what they want. So, what do your patients want? Although the main purpose of your business (to provide excellent hearing healthcare) remains the same, the answer to what your patients want does not stay the same through the years.

In fact, the answer shifts constantly. In the last year, the way we all live daily life has changed, and with it, what your patients want and how they want it has changed. Right now, consumers want it “their way.” Here are three things your patients want now and how you can give it to them their way:

  1. An easy-to-access provider

Although telehealth has existed for several years, many patients did not take advantage of it until they were forced to during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Once they got their first taste of telehealth, many patients preferred it to in-person visits. Telehealth has many advantages, such as eliminating the need to travel to and from the practice and removing the potential health risks of being in an office with other people. Virtual appointments are often easier to fit into your patients’ busy schedules.

Because telehealth appointments also cut down on the time your team spends in the office (no need for patient check-in or cleaning a room in between patients), they can also optimize your team’s time. Offering telehealth and virtual audiology can be a huge step forward in giving your patients an easy-to-access provider.

  1. Digital communication and updates

The key right now is to change, and one of those changes is to offer digital communication and updates for your patients. Gone are the days of calling them on the phone every time you need to remind them of an appointment, reschedule, give them an update on a device purchase or repair, or provide treatment updates. Most patients prefer digital communication that easily fits into their busy, digitally driven lives.

Here’s a personal example from the life of this writer: I had appointments in the last month with my dentist, my primary care physician, and my child’s pediatrician. Of the three medical practices, only one of them called me to remind me of the upcoming appointment. The other two sent me texts and emails to remind me of the appointments. As a busy working parent, reading a text or email is much easier and faster for me than answering a phone call to simply confirm an appointment. (I also received a “happy birthday” email from one of the practices. That’s a nice personal touch!)

  1. Management tools for their health

Patients are now seeking ways to more actively manage their health using tools like health tracking apps and hardware. This includes tools for their hearing health. Many people with hearing aids now like to use apps that can adjust their hearing aids and notify them of any new issues.

As technology continues to advance, more and more tools will become available for patients to manage their hearing health. There are already apps being released that can help you hear better in noise, personalize your sound experience, and more. Companies are also developing sound devices that are not hearing aids, but are rather earbuds or headphones that correct audio for hearing loss. To continue to meet your patients’ needs, you will need to stay current with the latest developments and tools that can help your patients manage their health. As you adjust your services to meet give your patients what they want “their way,” your practice can continue to grow and flourish. To learn more, we welcome you to contact us today at AudiologyPlus.

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

Reasons for Optimism in 2021

Reasons for Optimism in Audiology in 2021

As we begin 2021, you may be thinking that this year feels oddly similar to last year. Many people had hopes that 2021 would be completely different from 2020—free from the worries caused by a global pandemic and other far-reaching events. Although January 1, 2021, was not a magic date that ended all of the challenges, difficulties, or stress that began in 2020, there are many reasons to be optimistic in this new year.

2021 may indeed bear some similarities to 2020, such as adapted ways of doing business and living your day-to-day life thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. However, audiology leaders foresee a bright year in which audiology professionals around the world will continue to provide high-quality, personalized care to their patients. Here are a few reasons you can feel optimistic in 2021:

  • Greater access to hearing healthcare through telemedicine

One of the first challenges that arose at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic was how to care for your patients when it was a potential health risk to you, your team, and your patients to see them in person. A huge portion of audiology professionals rose to the occasion by adopting new technology that makes telemedicine not only possible, but a convenient, safe, and simple choice for providing your patients with personalized care.

While in-person visits will never be obsolete, telemedicine gives you a way to care for patients who cannot come to your office for any reason.

  • Highlighted importance of hearing health

Many areas of the country and the world have experienced lockdowns. In these times, when people had very limited contact with anyone outside of their household, it quickly became apparent how important hearing is. With more and more people turning to technology like video calls, making sure you can hear those you are speaking to is essential. This highlighted to many people that they had been neglecting their hearing health and encouraged them to seek the professional care they needed.

This trend will continue in 2021 as video calls and other technologies remain the norm for conducting business, attending school, reaching family members, and more.

  • Decreasing the stigma surrounding hearing aids

With more and more people realizing that they would benefit from hearing aids or other types of hearing health care, the stigma surrounding these devices is fading quickly. Hearing aids are continually being made smaller, more discreet, and easier to use, and people find them easier to accept in their lives. As hearing aids become increasingly acceptable to the consumer, more people will feel comfortable seeking the hearing healthcare they need.

  • Increased collaboration with other healthcare providers

It would be a great understatement to say that the healthcare industry was under stress in 2020. Challenges arose that most health professionals had never experienced before. The response, however, was one that impressed the world. In 2020, audiology professionals began collaborating with other healthcare professionals in unique ways. This will continue to grow in 2021, with ever-expanding opportunities to move the industry forward and better deal with new challenges.

  • Growing patient control over hearing devices

Hearing healthcare technology has improved immensely in recent years, and it is not slowing down now. One of the greatest innovations seen in 2020 was that more patients were able to adjust their own hearing devices through their smartphone or computer. Giving patients more control over their devices allows them to make the necessary adjustments without the need for an in-office visit. While 2021 may bring its own challenges, and you may still be working through some difficulties that began in 2020, there is no doubt that this year is full of new opportunities. To learn more about how to continue to grow your business in 2021, we invite you to contact us today at AudiologyPlus.

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.