New Opportunities For Hearing Healthcare, Unitron technology

Unitron Technologies & The Opportunities They Present

Unitron NorthI believe that the combination of Unitron technologies now available deliver real opportunities to the Independent Hearing Healthcare market. The technology delivers the ability to offer benefits to Patients that may well drive sales, up sales, brand engagement and trust. The technology is a timely weapon in a Practice’s armoury to meet the modern healthcare consumer. The technology can help Independent Practices excel in their offerings and communications to prospect Patients. Please bear with me while I explain my thinking.

The Patient Cohort

By now it is an accepted truism that the Patient cohort has changed, none more so, than within hearing healthcare. Patients now wish to participate actively in monitoring and directing their health and health care. The proliferation of health information technology and consumer e-health tools, electronic tools and services such as secure e-mail messaging between patients and providers, or mobile health apps have created new opportunities for individuals to do just that. Modern Patients have great trust in technology to resolve and treat their problems.

Patients as Consumers

Most Patient cohorts are not consumers in the literal accepted sense, there are strong differences. Patients seek medical care or treatment to relieve pain or regain quality of life as opposed to making aspirational purchases. The purchase decision within healthcare has serious ramifications and needs the guidance and input of a well-trained and informed professional. Finally, healthcare purchase decisions are influenced by many individuals and instruments such as family, friends, insurance, medical practitioners and even health services at a government level.

The Patient cohort within the hearing healthcare industry tend to consider themselves as consumers, however, they face the same constraints as other healthcare consumers. The knowledge needed to make pertinent decisions is high. Technology is ever changing and the treatment of hearing loss is a personalised approach that involves skill, empathy and understanding.

A Cooperative Approach to Healthcare Management

While the modern Patient has moved from a subservient role towards a more active role in their health care management, that role is still not as a traditional consumer. However, they are more active and engaged in their healthcare decisions and look towards a cooperative approach to their wellness. A strong example of this is the use of the internet and other modern digital channels for healthcare information and monitoring. The statistics available in relation to healthcare searches on-line and the use of apps or other digital channels clearly highlight the current appetite for information in relation to all aspects of healthcare.

Hearing Healthcare Patients

Hearing healthcare Patients, and by that I mean Private Patients, approach our industry with some reluctance. There are still lingering issues with trust, both in professional providers and hearing aid equipment. Our sphere is one of the few medical spheres that offer real purchase decisions at retail level. The differing technology levels offer choice within treatment options. Often that choice and the purchase decision are really little understood by the Patient.

Management of Expectations

While choice within a purchase decision has to be seen as a good thing, the lack of real understanding on the part of the Patient can reduce that choice to the lowest common denominator, money. Often, that is the case in many purchase decisions that are made within our cohort. This is problematic, the best value, may well not be the best option for them. Often, management of expectations of a Patient is not undertaken well, this further compounds the error of the purchase decision. This has led to the situation where trust in professionals and hearing aid technology can be an issue.

The Patient’s Wants & Needs

Our cohort approaches us with some trepidation, as we know there are underlying psychological implications to the entire process. The impact of hearing loss is not just physical, but also mental. There are many emotions and conceptions both true and false wrapped up in the realisation of a hearing loss. This is not the place to review them and we are all aware of them and the excellent study undertaken elsewhere.

However, we need to be mindful of them as they apply to the wants and needs of our cohort. So what does a modern prospect Patient want?

  • They want to reclaim their life
  • They want to deal with a Professional Authority
  • They want to trust the professional they deal with
  • They want the best advice possible to deal with their condition
  • They want to be active in the decision-making process
  • They want to collaborate with the healthcare professional to manage their condition

These Patients wants and needs give us opportunity, opportunity that the current congruence of Unitron technology features can help us realise.

Flex-Trial, Try Before You Buy

Flex-Trial delivers the ability to allow a Patient to try before you buy. This feature should be encouraged across your customer base. This feature drives trust in the Patient cohort; it gives the sense that nothing is hidden. Trust is increased in both the professional and the hearing aid technology. It also drives the sense within the Patient cohort that they are collaborating in their healthcare management. The Flex-Trial is also an important tool to deal with the unsure and the badly treated.

Flex Upgrade, Managing Your Treatment

Flex Upgrade delivers the ability to allow a Patient to make easy decisions about their treatment management. It also relieves the pressure on the purchase decision; the worry about making a bad decision is reduced because there is always the option to change that decision easily without fanfare.

Log It All, Independent Technological Advice

The new Log It All feature ties the two technologies together in a way never before possible. It delivers to the Patient completely independent advice that is based on their real world lifestyle needs and experiences. It also feeds to that underlying belief modern technology can help solve their problems.

Trust in the Professional

I think that the congruence of technology can drive real trust in the Professional and hearing aid equipment in prospect Patients. If delivered properly and framed in the right terms the technology will also deliver real engagement with prospect Patients. It will engender and foster the sense of control over treatment options and encourage the sense of real collaboration with the medical professional. All of this can only be a good thing for our industry.

Communicating the Message

The communication of the features and the opportunities they provide to the end user needs to be managed carefully. Not for any nefarious reasons, simply to increase the power of the benefits delivered and couch the terms of reference of those benefits.

Terms of Reference

It is important that the terms of reference for any campaign to be set carefully for maximum impact and engagement. In the case of the end-user, those terms of reference should include statements that drive trust in the Professional and the sense of power, choice and involvement in the process of treatment. Statements that we would use at Audiology Engine would be

 

We Trust In Our Products & Our Service, We Want You to Trust In Them Too

Trial The Flex

50,000  R&D hours, 1000 quality control tests, 500 focus groups, 200 field tests But the test that matters is yours!

Trial Flex and hear the difference

With Flex, you can find the technology that delivers in your life

Helping you take control of your hearing needs

 

Not really sure what you need? We’ve got you covered!

Trial Flex, giving you the control to make decisions

 

We know that deciding which hearing aid technology is right for you is difficult.

That’s why we made it easier with Flex!

The Benefit to Independent Practices

This approach can deliver massive benefits to a Practice. The use of this type of campaign can drive brand engagement, deliver strong value propositions to and drive trust in the prospect Patient cohort. The technology can increase sales within the unsure demographic and deliver up-sale opportunities. It also delivers strong marketing messages that can drive inquiries.

Driving Brand Engagement & Trust

Trust and engagement is delivered by the quid pro quo effect. Trials and money back offers have always driven trust within the consumer cohort. It shows that the retailer has trust in the ability of the product to deliver.

In the case of the Flex solution it allows the retailer to show that they implicitly believe in their product and their ability to deliver that product. This drives trust, trust drives engagement. That engagement allows us to enter into a process that can be designed to allow the consumer to make real, educated decisions about their hearing healthcare.

Delivering the Power of Choice

That trust also allows unsure consumers to move forward in the process. It empowers them by delivering technology which allows them to make big decisions and enforces those decisions. It delivers technology that will allow those people to change those decisions at a later date. That ability will increase sales among those who are unsure.

Delivering Up Sale Opportunities

The technology combined delivers up-sale opportunities that are in fact perceived to be technology driven. Those up-sale opportunities will not be perceived to be driven by the dispenser or by financial concerns. It delivers the up sale as a simple choice that is based on real-world data gathered in the Patient’s life. This again reinforces the perception of control over, and collaboration in, the process of hearing better.

Marketing Opportunities

The technology allows a Practice marketing opportunities across all of its channels. While the technology delivers the ability, it does not need to be the focus of the campaign. In fact it is imperative that the technology is a bit player. The real driver of the campaign should be based on trust, shared collaboration and decisions made easier through technology. In this way a retail brand can drive the focus on them, their ethos, their service, their authority and their belief in their ability. Bold statements should be made because it is these bold statements that will drive interest. Bold statements will drive interest and surprisingly trust.

In conclusion

I believe that Unitron technologies deliver real power to an Independent Practice in difficult times. How you use them is what is key. Just to let you know, I don’t work for Unitron nor have I been paid for this article, if however they are feeling generous, I could do with a brand new 27 inch iMac with all the trimmings!  🙂 Pretty Please!

 

About Geoffrey Cooling

my name is Geoffrey Cooling and I am the author here at Just Audiology Stuff. I have been involved in the Hearing Healthcare Profession for several years now. I initially worked as a Hearing Healthcare Professional for a large national retailer in Ireland. After several years in Practice I was approached to work for a manufacturer, where I was employed for five years. I am now the Co Founder of a business called Audiology Engine. We design websites, undertake content marketing and generally look after everything digital for audiological practices. I am also a contributor to many hearing profession periodicals and websites. I have written two commercially available books, The Little Book of Hearing Aids which is written for hearing aid consumers and Audiology Marketing in a Digital World which is written for Audiology Practice Owners. They are both available in Paperback and Kindle versions on Amazon. I also write for consumers on the website Hearing Aid Know, which is a website with the mission of demystifying hearing aids, their types and their technology. I have a great interest in commercial strategy as it applies to Healthcare in general and specifically to Hearing Healthcare. I also have a great interest in the psychology of sales and human interaction. I have been involved with social media for some time, both personally and professionally. I find the engagement and discourse on some social media channels fascinating. I instituted social media strategy for the company I worked for as an experiment. That experiment soon spread throughout the company and I am proud to say that the company is probably one of the most active in the industry. I would like to point out that all views, opinions and thoughts here are mine own. Unless of course they have been planted by the pod people, you just can’t take your eyes off the pod people. Those views do not necessarily reflect upon any views or opinions held by my employer, if I ever get another one. I think that our industry is in the middle of a time of huge change, I think that the change will be forced by both internal and external pressure. I think that private Independent Healthcare Practices will have to be smart and lithe of feet in order to meet these changes. I hope that some of my blatherings are of benefit to those Practices, Independent Hearing Healthcare Practices need to survive. I believe that if that occurs it will be of real benefit to Patients. I hope that I, and my writings will play a small part in their continued success.

One Comment

  1. I am very excited about this new technology from Unitron. Many patients simply don’t know what they want. The Flex program, introduced two years ago, has been very useful in giving the patient the ability to try out different levels of technology so that they can decide for themselves what works best for them in their own lives. Now, with the “Log It All” feature, you can learn more about their needs and show them through analysis what they need rather than strictly relying on their subjective impression. (I don’t like their name for it; I prefer “Lifestyle Analyzer.”)

    With the new North platform, you can program the demo models for their use to be one of five technology levels. Let’s say they believe “Level 2” (from the bottom) is best for them. They can try it for a week and when they come back you can use the datalogging to determine how well it worked for them. This level’s automatic program has two automatic aspects (speech in quiet and speech in noise), while the “Level 3” product has five.

    Let’s say a patient underestimates their busy lifestyle with the use of the Level 2 technology, with the automatic program only meeting their needs 33% of the time. The other 67% (music, comfort in noise, etc.) could be met through manual programs–or by a higher level technology. The Log It All / Lifestyle Analyzer can show the patient that the Level 3 technology would meet their needs 80% of the time, and the Level 4 would meet it 92% of the time. Therefore for only a little more money going to Level 3 technology they would perceive a significant improvement over the Level 2 technology. You could then reprogram the demo units to be Level 3 models and give them another week trial to prove it.

    My experience with previous Flex trials shows that patients definitely notice the difference when they try different levels; half of them are convinced enough to get the higher level, the other half are convinced but still go with the lower level because of cost. They do, however, have a great reassurance by being able to upgrade in the future; their not necessarily stuck at the lower level and can pay the difference and upgrade later. This is a huge selling point.

    I’ve considered conducting a study using the Flex technology, as my comments above are based strictly on observation and not on a systematic analysis. Maybe this summer or fall.

Let me know what you think