Audiology 2.0, what is it and what will it mean?

Hearing healthcare has been in a state of flux for many years, however, with the introduction of the OTC legislation, it seems that all of the threats to the traditional model have converged to apply maximum pressure on us.

I don’t think that the belief that the sky is falling is correct; I believe that the present case has focused the minds of many people on the situation. However, I think that it does represent a turning point for the profession of hearing healthcare. 

What Has Gone Before Will Not Move Forward

I believe that our model will change, how we deal with people now and the processes we follow will be very different moving forward. As technology changes and innovation increases, the way we do things will inevitably change.

I think testing processes may well stay the same, but the fitting of hearing aids and their follow up will dramatically change. I believe that we will see a more blended model that involves less physical face time and more customer involvement. 

The Customer Demands

Changing customer demands will have a direct effect on how we do things, it will also have a significant impact on how we offer services and products. I believe that customers will want more control over their hearing aids moving forward.

That demand for control and the request for easier access to aftercare on their terms will lead to a blended approach for follow up and aftercare. I believe it will be an approach that involves both physical and virtual touchpoints.

Responding To The Customer

Both the profession and the industry will need to respond to changing customer demands. The industry will need to focus on delivering products that meet their requirements for increased control and engagement.

In the profession, we will need to look at introducing and using technology that allows us to provide the customer experience and journey that they are beginning to demand.

The quicker we realise this, the quicker we can work towards providing it. Because if we don’t offer it, we are no longer relevant in the customer’s search for answers.

Moving Towards Audiology 2.0

So what is Audiology 2.0, what technology will drive it and what will it involve? I think a significant part of Audiology 2.0 will be an evolvement of our understanding of what the desired customer journey is.

We understand or at least have an idea of what our desired customer journey is, but does that correspond with theirs? I am indeed not sure that it does at present.

While we can talk about technologies, service offerings and products that fit any new customer journey, we need to understand the requirements of the customer before we implement them. 

What Do We Know?

We know that our customer base is changing, we know that the more modern customer is more tech-savvy than ever before. We know that the contemporary customer is undertaking more research into their condition and the solutions available than ever before.

We know that modern customers get served by businesses on their terms. We know that modern customers are familiar with virtual experiences, whether that be shopping on Amazon or speaking to a therapist online.

We know that the modern customer communicates with brands on many different channels and wants a rapid response. We know that modern customers expect to be able to pick a channel of their choosing to communicate with a brand (think customer service requests on Facebook).

What Do They Want From Us

I believe that they will want similar things from us that they expect from other vendors. Don’t forget, even healthcare providers are now considered vendors and healthcare decisions are framed within the terms of purchase decisions.

That means that all of the old rules for how we treated them and what they expected and tolerated from us are pretty much out the window.

Hearing Care On Their Terms

In essence, they want hearing care but not as we know it, Jim. They will look for hearing care on their terms. They will expect our profession to move with the times and offer at least as much as other healthcare professions if not more.

In the second part of this article I will discuss what shape I think Audiology 2.0 will take and how we can best plan for and implement it. 

About Geoffrey Cooling

Geoffrey Cooling is an Irish hearing care blogger and the author of The Little Book of Hearing Aids and Audiology Marketing in a Digital World. He has been involved in the Hearing Healthcare Profession since 2007 when he qualified as a hearing aid audiologist. He has worked in private practice and for a major hearing aid manufacturer. He has become recognised as an authority within the field of hearing care and hearing aids.

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