For hearing care professionals, there is no greater source of personal and professional frustration than “tested not sold” patients. Your evaluation reveals the need for a hearing aid, and the patient leaves without committing to ongoing treatment. The best opportunity to correct or minimize their hearing loss is gone.
This scenario is becoming more common. “Big-box” retailers such as Costco sell over-the-counter (OTC) amplification devices that typically cost less than many of the devices you offer. The “maybe” a patient gives you could turn into a “yes” at Costco. Unfortunately, the OTC device they buy can do more harm than good. But as long as they keep cranking up the volume, they won’t need to return to your practice.
There are two reliable methods for turning a “maybe” into a “yes” before each tested patient leaves your office. First, make clear the value and purpose of the services you offer. Second, offer a financing option to reduce the sticker shock of costly devices.
Plot the Patient Journey
The expertise and individualized care you offer cannot be replicated at Costco. Patients must understand there is no substitute for a treatment plan. Proper care requires periodic hearing tests and device recalibration. Low-frequency hearing loss, high-frequency hearing loss, and tinnitus require different approaches. Amplification alone is never the answer.
Though rare, unilateral tinnitus could be the result of a tumor of the auditory nerve or its surrounding structures. Hearing loss is sometimes sparked by a heart attack or stroke. It is a symptom of a number of common health concerns, including diabetes, kidney disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia. Some medications used to treat cancer or chronic pain lead to temporary hearing loss. A Costco clerk cannot adequately address these comorbidities to disordered hearing.
It’s crucial to lay out a treatment plan immediately following the evaluation. Explain the need for individualized care. Turn a “maybe” into a “yes.” Extoll the virtues of the device you recommend. Warn patients of the harm perpetually increased amplification can do. Ask them to refer to you a friend or family member who is using an OTC device.
Break Down the Cost Barrier
There are is one main reason why patients may not want to proceed with a treatment plan: the cost of the devices you recommend. Thrifty patients, those on a fixed income, or those unable to afford any unplanned, out-of-pocket expense are wary of pricy expenditures.
To turn a “maybe” (or a “no”) into a “yes,” offer a financing option. CareCredit is a health, wellness, and personal care credit card provider partnering with audiologists and hearing aid retailers nationwide. Together, they offer patients the ability to finance the cost of the treatment and devices they need to protect and restore their hearing.
CareCredit provides hearing care practitioners with free marketing and educational materials. Among them are door stickers, posters, tent cards to be displayed at your office, and brochures for patients. Adding the CareCredit logo and compelling content to your website is free.
CareCredit introduced CareCredit Direct for patients who want to learn more about the company. This free, web-based program allows patients to obtain an instant credit decision and calculate monthly payments—all before leaving your office. All you need is a desktop, laptop, or tablet computer and a private place for patients to use it. Assure them your office is neither collecting nor retaining their credit application or the information it contains.
Finding new patients is crucial to building your business. Furthermore, keeping them in your care for the long run is the only way to ensure they are getting the proper care they need. Don’t let your next patient walk out the door with a “maybe.” Turn that “maybe” into a “yes.” Clearly illustrate the value of the services you provide as well as offering a financing option for those who may struggle to afford it.