Recent technological advancements have transformed the hearing care industry. Analog hearing aids are out. Digital processing systems are in. Patients like that new devices are more powerful and efficient than their ancestors. Many patients also appreciate the advanced functionality that they deliver.
Don’t be afraid to geek out with your tech-savvy customers. Get them excited about their purchases. Educate them on the virtues of the latest trends in hearing care technology. Building an emotional connection between patients and devices can help close the sale. Creating excitement helps ensure they will return for the care they need.
Let’s take a closer look at five of the latest trends in hearing care and why you and your patients should be excited about them:
Bluetooth and Streaming
Bluetooth-compatible hearing aids are an excellent choice for any patient who owns a Bluetooth-enabled device. This wireless audio feature is commonly found on mobile phones, tablets, and laptop computers. Bluetooth connectivity allows patients to send an audio signal directly to their hearing aid’s processor. Bypassing the microphone significantly improves the signal-to-noise ratio.
Phone calls are the most common application. Patients will also appreciate the ability to stream audio from TV shows, movies, games, and apps from mobile devices. Video game enthusiasts will appreciate this feature as well—as long as they own an Xbox. (Its chief rival, the PlayStation, has yet to add the feature.)
Data Logging and Learning
Some devices are programmed to log environment-specific data. This information is then used to create settings that go well beyond “quiet” and “noisy” programs. Advanced devices detect a “learned” environment and automatically adjust settings to match.
Pocket-size remote controls allow patients to raise and lower volume. They can also instantly mute or unmute their hearing aids. They typically feature a dedicated “home” button as well as the ability to toggle through other programs. Remote controls for Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids have a “wireless” button. Patients can push the button to quickly connect with other compatible devices.
Noise and Wind Reduction
Patients replacing analog hearing aids will be impressed by the noise reduction offered by digital devices. Modern processors can manipulate signals in countless ways. Programmers have taken advantage by dedicating algorithms to identifying and canceling unwanted noise. Their targets are ambient background buzz and sudden, loud “impulse” noises.
Some hearing aids can even reduce wind noise. Their microphones have built-in sensors that detect the force of the wind. They signal the processor to avoid amplifying it. This feature should be of particular interest to patients who enjoy sailing, golf, or other outdoor activities for which wind is a factor.
Also known as “telecare” or “telehealth,” telemedicine refers to office visits conducted remotely. Telemedicine is typically facilitated by Skype or another videoconferencing tool.
Clearly, telemedicine is an unrealistic scenario for most audiology appointments. It can, however, be an alternative to some office visits. Some patients need help adjusting their hearing aid. Others need help troubleshooting a mechanical issue. A quick Skype session can help avoid an unplanned excursion. Your appointment schedule will surely benefit as well.
The Digital Age has changed the way hearing aids look, feel, and work. Unfortunately the devices you rely on can be too expensive for many of your patients. To help defray the “sticker shock” of hearing aids, consider offering a financing option. Audiologists and hearing aid retailers nationwide have partnered with CareCredit, a health and wellness credit card. Patients can use CareCredit to finance their office visits and technology purchases.
The hearing care industry is changing rapidly. Embrace the latest trends to get more patients excited about their devices. It’s one of the most effective ways to grow your practice today and in the future.