You likely don’t need to be told that the audiology business has become significantly more competitive in recent years. Hearing loss sufferers can shop for amplification devices online and at “Big Box” stores. Those retailers don’t have your expertise. But they are an attractive option for patients who are only looking at the bottom line. They might not see the big picture audiologists do. You know proper hearing care requires expert evaluation, ongoing treatment, and precision device maintenance.
Your patients (and prospective patients) deserve the best care. You need to give them a reason to visit an audiologist. You also need to stand apart from your competitors. That’s where the patient experience becomes paramount. Your office should be a welcoming environment. You must prove with every visit that each patient is special and deserving of individualized care. Here are a few ways to do exactly that:
Nearly 10% of all Americans suffer from tinnitus. Less than half have talked to a doctor about the problem. There is no one cure for tinnitus. But you can address many of the causes and symptoms. Successful treatment can significantly improve a tinnitus sufferer’s quality of life.
Instead of waiting for patients to mention it to you, be proactive. Make a point of asking every patient who comes through your door if they have tinnitus symptoms. Offer them care that they might not have considered getting elsewhere. Seek ongoing education and become an expert. You will prove to your patients that you want to give them the best possible quality of life.
Get Into Implants
When acoustic amplification is not effective, electric stimulation may be. Knowing how cochlear implants (CI) work makes you a more effective counselor. The ability to refer patients to a CI specialist and monitor their progress will allow you to create a highly-customized patient experience.
Cultivate relationships with CI surgeons in your market. Create a mutually beneficial referral network. Assure your patients your relationship does not have to end if they opt for a CI. You can help coach them through the decision-making process. You can continue to evaluate them and maintain external devices. Maintaining the audiologist/patient relationship through every phase of hearing care will make you invaluable to each patient and improve your prospects for referrals.
Stay on Top of the Latest Trends
Do you keep abreast of all the latest trends in hearing aids and other hearing-related matters? Make sure your patients know that! Become the go-to source they call to learn about new technologies that might give them better outcomes than they are currently seeing.
Let your patients know you are always available to discuss news or advances they may come across in their own research. Ideally, you will be the first person they go to with questions. People want to give their business to someone who is considered an expert in their field. Be sure you are considered the expert when it comes to their hearing.
Offer a Financing Option
Online retailers and Costco clerks are not in the financing business. The closest their customers can come to amortizing the cost of a hearing aid is to pay with a credit card.
Offering a financing option is another way you can differentiate yourself and customize the patient experience. CareCredit is a health and wellness credit card patients on low or fixed incomes can use to pay for the cost of devices and your services. By offering CareCredit and advertising the option on your website and in your office, you can demonstrate your sensitivity to individual financial concerns. Better yet, you can ensure your patients get the care they need to protect and improve their precious hearing.
Just because you are now competing with organizations that encourage patients to only look at the price tag doesn’t mean you have to play their game. Focus instead on all of the other benefits your practice has to offer, giving each patient the care they deserve. When they know you care about them and their specific needs, they are going to be far more likely to put their hearing in your hands.