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Need Hearing Care? Choose A Business Model!

Audiology Business Models

Introduction

You may not be aware of it…but when you choose a hearing provider you are also choosing a business model. One model works off the proposition that profits alone are the bottom line for generating future profitability. This model is exemplified by “Big Box” stores such as Costco and a legion of minimally trained hearing aid dispensers. The competing business model proposes that customer satisfaction drives customer loyalty…and customer loyalty drives profitability and growth. This business model is typified by audiologists trained in an end-to-end process of patient-centered hearing care. The following paragraphs will show that business model implementations are strongly related to the education requirements necessary to lawfully provide various audiological services. Well credentialed audiologists can pursue a full course of professional services…but less credentialed hearing aid dispensers are legally bound to a limited set of services focusing on the sale of hearing aids East Inflatables.

Audiologists

Audiologists must earn a Doctor of Audiology (AuD) degree. This requires 4 years of undergraduate study in Communication Sciences (speech and hearing) and an additional 4 years of specialized academic work, including high-level training in the prevention, identification, assessment, and treatment of hearing disorders. Their extensive academic credentials, professional certification, and licensure, allow audiologists to provide a full range of patient-centered care, including a thorough patient assessment, comprehensive diagnostic tests, treatment options, and post-fitting counseling. Profit is important to independent audiologists but it doesn’t generally dictate the patient process. Many of the diagnostic and counseling efforts that define the standard of patient-centered care offer low-profit margins compared to hearing aid sales…but these are critical elements of comprehensive hearing care. Take away any of the links in the patient-centered chain and you also disrupt the process of end-to-end care.

Hearing Aid Dispensers

By contrast, hearing aid dispensers, (AKA hearing aid specialists), can recommend, select, or adapt hearing aids and may alter, adjust or reconstruct hearing aid specifications for functionality, such as taking ear impressions for proper fit. Hearing aid dispensers can sell hearing aids in many states if they have a high school diploma or GED Certificate, pass a license exam, complete a brief apprenticeship with a licensed hearing aid specialist, and earn continuing education credits (usually from correspondence courses). The reduced requirements for hearing aid dispensers has led to a proliferation of clinics staffed by individuals with superficial training whose primary lawful focus is hearing aid sales…not audiological services.

ENT Physicians

An increasing number of Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) physicians are using audiology as a supplementary service to boost their bottom line profits. This is accomplished by hiring audiologists and/or dispensers to administer basic audiological exams, often with dated equipment, to support their surgical requirements. Since ENT physicians focus on surgical solutions, you shouldn’t expect broad audiological support at an ENT clinic.

Corporate Hearing Centers

The market for treating hearing disorders is expanding. In response…the number of corporate hearing centers is also increasing. Why is this important? Because corporate hearing centers (many owned by hearing aid manufacturers) are motivated by bottom-line profits, and these profits are achieved through hearing aid sales…not diagnostic or rehabilitative services. Large corporations are purchasing independent practices across the country, often stripping them of important diagnostic capabilities, and staffing their new hearing centers with non-audiology staff, including hearing aid dispensers.

“Big Box” Stores

Using the power of their marketing wealth, corporate retail giants like Costco are repositioning hearing care as a commodity based solution. These stores are typically staffed by hearing aid dispensers, and their business model is dominated by profit concerns...so don’t expect a full range of audiological services at any of these Big Box giants.

The Bottom Line

Hearing aid dispensers and audiologists are both licensed to fit and program hearing aids…but that is where the similarities end. There’s a vast difference in education and training requirements between Doctors of Audiology and hearing aid specialists. This training edge allows audiologists to pursue a rigorous process of professional diagnosis, treatment (including hearing aid fitting, programming and verification), and rehabilitation. In contrast, most hearing aid dispensers work for large corporations such as Costco, and must, by law, concentrate their efforts on a narrow range of services, including hearing aid sales, fitting, and programing. It is important to understand that corporations are motivated to control the distribution of hearing care, and profit margins dictate their treatment process. They are not in the business of marketing comprehensive audiological services to consumers or exclusively using audiologists as their providers. They are “bottom liners” so they are in the business of selling hearing aids.

Choose Your Business Model

There’s an ongoing struggle between opposing business philosophies to define the scope and practice of hearing care. Most Audiologists believe hearing care should be patient-centered and managed by Doctors of Audiology. This business model emphasizes an end-to-end process of professional services, including consultation and diagnosis, hearing aid fitting and programming, validation of hearing aid functions with advanced technology such as Speech Mapping, and post-fitting counseling and rehabilitation. The opposing business model is much more focused on high profit margin sales, and is represented by hearing aid dispensers, hearing aid manufacturers, and retail giants such as Costco. Under this business model, hearing care is managed primarily by non-audiologists and hearing aid sales defines their bottom line …often at the expense of professional audiological services. Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) practices are also in the mix, as they increasingly train technicians to perform basic audiometric and vestibular testing under minimal supervision to support their primary focus of surgery. So…if you need hearing care…choose your business model!

About the Author

Dr. Ha-Sheng Li-Korotky is the President and co-founder of Pacific Northwest Audiology (www.pnwaudiology.com), based in Bend, Oregon. The Doctor is a nationally acclaimed clinician and research scientist, with AuD, PhD, and MD credentials and more than 100 scientific publications.

Months of Reviews…Still Invisible to Google!

After months of five star reviews…a great web site with lots of updated content…an active Facebook page…a productive Blog…and numerous five star reviews spreading throughout local review sites…Pacific Northwest Audiology still manages to evade Google’s efforts to place us in their search results! Still, we have been extremely busy due to “word of mouth” referrals, and some of our customers still manage to find our web site. It’s just a matter of time before Google allows us into their universe according to the three web witches …Reminds me of one of my favorite scenes in Shakespeare’s Macbeth:

“Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing”.

Now to get back on point…Whether Google finds us or notnothing will stop us from “raising the bar” for audiological services in Bend.

Every month or two we will show our reviews…all that we can find…so you can see what we are up to. This will be our first installment of verified reviews…covering October and November. We want to thank our patrons for trusting us to help them…and a special thanks to all who took the time to write reviews!

You can check our Certified Customer Reviews, here

…and Internet Customer Reviews, here

…and here

The Reviews


“Great Professional Service” – I am so impressed with the exam I received and the professionalism of Dr. Li-Kiorotky and the staff. I will definitely refer others to her. A.P, Bend Oregon, Nov 28, 2012

 

“Thankful” – Dr. Li-Korotky and her staff are awesome…My young grandson was very nervous about going to a new Dr…When we got there they made every attempt and beyond to make us comfortable…Dr.Li spent so much time making sure my Grandson’s hearing aids worked properly for him…I want to say thank you from the receptionist to the Dr. for all the time and emotions they gave us…We are so thankful to find such a wonderful Dr. and staff… M., Madras Oregon, Nov 23, 2012

 

My husband has profound hearing loss in both ears, and has been traveling to Portland to have his hearing aids adjusted for 7 years, not by choice, but because there has not been an audiologist in Central Oregon that could adjust and coordinate his highly technological equipment that keeps him gainfully employed. He has had to take a full day off work, and travel the mountain pass in winter to do this. Sometimes the adjustment would last a few months, abut last week, it only lasted several hours before he knew something was terribly wrong. To our great relief the Phonak manufacturer referred us to a new audiologist in Bend, Dr. Ha-Sheng Li-Korotky. One contact with her office manager, Stephanie, and we knew we had finally found someone who was concerned and caring. They had to obtain updated software for his particular hearing aids, and have it ready for his 4:00pm appointment wholesale bounce house. I can’t say enough praise for Dr. Li-Korotky, her compassion, her understanding and knowledge about my husband’s condition and what it meant for him to have his hearing aids working properly. She spent 2 hours with us, long after office hours. They have worked perfectly since then. She has our gratitude, our business from now on, and our highest referral. P.F., Bend Oregon, Nov 19, 2012

 

I just came from Pacific Northwest Audiology LLC’s ribbon cutting. Members of the Bend Chamber of Commerce. Dr. Ha-Sheng Li-Korotky, Audiologist, AuD, PhD, MD
is highly qualified, has done extensive research, and is highly educated in her field. She is also sincere, gracious, kind, humble, and is a great host. She served a classy menu, and made sure all of her guests were well taken care of. This suggests that she and her clinic have above average customer service skills. Rare to find all of these skills in one doctor. Highly recommend Pacific Northwest Audiology LLC. S.N. Bend Oregon, Oct 25, 2012

 

“Grateful” – After examining my father for hearing disorders, Dr. Li-Korotky suspected a medical problem, so she referred him to an ENT specialist for further examination. We were shocked when an MRI showed a slow growing brain mass, even though he had no symptoms. If it wasn’t for Dr. Li-Korotky, my father’s brain tumor would have remained untreated until it was too late. Thank you for putting the health of your patients first. You added years to the life of our father and we are filled with gratitude. S.R., Bend Oregon, Oct 17, 2012

 

“Compassionate Care” – I took advantage of Dr. Li-Korotky’s free hearing assessment. I felt welcomed and that I was in very competent hands. Some of the highlights of my visit include: 1) Dr. Li’s warm personal style; 2) the thoroughness of the assessment; 3) Dr. Li’s very clear explanation of my hearing issues and possible remedies. When the time comes for me to consider hearing aids, I will most definitely return to Pacific Northwest Audiology. I have full confidence in Dr. Li and the services she provides. D. D., Bend Oregon, Oct 10, 2012

 

“My First Hearing Test” – I met Dr. Li-Korotky at the Bend Senior Center. Dr. Li-Korotky was extremely easy to speak with. She was thorough and answered any questions I posed. The exam dealt in depth not only to my hearing but my misunderstanding of words. She also dealt with a medical issue which had occurred several years earlier that appeared to have effected my tympanic membranes. I was definitely pleased with Dr. Li-Korotoky and the welcome service I received from Pacific Northwest Audiology. L.H., Oct 4, 2012

Dr. Li-Korotky Runs a Free Clinic at the Bend Senior Center

Dr. Li-Korotky provided free audiological services at the Bend Senior Center today. The original announcement follows:

The audiological services included…

  • Free consultations for hearing loss, tinnitus, and communication challenges/solutions.
  • Free ear wax and eardrums check (using a lighted otoscope).
  • Free “dangerous decibels” checks for personal listening devices (iPod, MP3).
  • Free hearing aid cleaning, minor hearing aid repairs, and troubleshooting.

The clinic was well attended and Dr. Li-Korotky scheduled quite a few follow-up appointments at Pacific Northwest Audiology.

In the future the Doctor will offer free informational seminars on hearing, hearing loss, treatment solutions/options, and communication strategies. Additional Free Clinics will be held on the second Tuesday of each month, from 8:30 AM to 11:30 AM.

  1. Check Our Certified Customer Reviews, here

  2. Check Our Internet Customer Reviews, here

  3. Book an Appointment Online, here