Buying Hearing Aids: Know What To Look For When Choosing

How often have you gone to the web to understand a medical symptom before seeking medical attention from a physician? And how often have you treated that symptom with an over-the-counter remedy based on the information you gathered? Yep! You, me and the rest of the world – multiple times a month, multiple times a year.

As a result of our increasing reliance on the world-wide-web, the way we treat medical symptoms, including hearing loss, has changed drastically in the past few years. Some of these changes have vastly improved access to healthcare services; however, it has also led to a myriad of issues. Purchasing healthcare devices and equipment through an online or retail source, although often times less expensive, can put you at a greater risk for not only misusing the product but possible damage to yourself, others, and reduced overall benefit from the equipment in general. And let’s face it, something that sits in a box, no matter how inexpensive, is a waste of money.

The Research

Hearing loss is a common medical problem that patients increasingly attempt to treat through an online or retail source, sometimes even doing so without a formal diagnosis. Satisfaction reports indicate that patients who purchase hearing aids from online sources and big box discount stores report significantly less real-world benefit than hearing aids purchased from professionals who follow best practices (Kochkin, 2014; Humes et al., 2017). That being said, we know real-world benefit and satisfaction can be much greater when patients are fit using best practices, which requires patients to be seen in a clinic, by a professional who follows these best practices.

Satisfaction

So why is satisfaction lower? Well, I may be biased but here are a few thoughts to ponder. For starters, online and discount store options typically have significantly less (or no) patient contact time and follow-up care as compared to a hospital or private clinic. Hearing loss is rarely a “quick fix” and it takes time and expertise to properly treat. It can be a figurative, and sometimes literal, nightmare to get devices checked, adjusted or fixed at big box stores or online clinics if there are issues. Many of us would rather put something in a drawer than fight the crowds or waste time at the post office. Furthermore, big box discount and online stores are all about the numbers – the more, the merrier = more revenue. Unfortunately, this reduces available resources for patients when they need help. Although it may be convenient to pick up 30,000 ballpoint pens at the same time you get your hearing aids, who wants to go to a place where you are nothing more than a number and a dollar sign? When it comes to healthcare, particularly hearing healthcare, going “cheap” can have consequences.

Take Home Message

You may be wondering “what’s the big deal? It’s just a hearing aid”. In some ways, you’re right, it is JUST a hearing aid – if you go to the wrong place to get one. Consider life without hearing and it becomes a lot more than JUST a hearing aid – it’s a lifeline. You should see a doctor who views it that way. That’s one of many reasons Blue Sky Hearing is the best place to treat hearing loss, hearing is our sole focus. Consider the following points when choosing a doctor to treat your hearing loss:

  • Hearing loss is a particularly challenging health problem to treat; it’s the result of damage to the organ of hearing and/or the nerve and it’s not a “simple” fix. As such, treating hearing loss requires an in-depth understanding of anatomy and auditory physiology. 
  • Hearing aids are TOOLS, not solutions.
  • The solution comes from the care and service – which are critical to the successful treatment of hearing loss.
  • Blue Sky Hearing has the best Doctors of Audiology. We specialize in treating hearing loss in adults with an intense focus on providing state-of-the-art hearing healthcare for an exceptional patient experience.

The moral of this soapbox story is to come to Blue Sky Hearing and see a doctor that values YOU. Take time to learn about your provider, their treatment methods and motivations. You will likely have a better treatment outcome and overall experience. Hearing is a critical component to our quality of life, treat your ears to the best care, not necessarily the cheapest.

References:

Humes, L. E., Rogers, S. E., Quigley, T. M., Main, A. K., Kinney, D. L., & Herring, C. (2017). The Effects of Service-Delivery Model and Purchase Price on Hearing-Aid Outcomes in Older Adults: A Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial. American Journal of Audiology, 26, 53-79.

Kochkin, S. (2014). A Comparison of Consumer Satisfaction, Subjective Benefit, and Quality of Life Changes Associated with Traditional and Direct-mail Hearing Aid Use.  Hearing Review, 21(1), 16-26.

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