Overcoming the barriers to hearing aid adoption
I read a great paper recently by Steve Eagon and Jason Mayer of Unitron US titled “Overcoming barriers to hearing aid adoption & in-clinic success Business as usual vs. new approaches for the hearing healthcare practice”. It details the low penetration rate in our market and talks about how they are trying to address it using their proprietary technology. About 35% of hearing-impaired individuals who visit a hearing healthcare clinic decide against amplification, contrary to the provider’s recommendation. That is quite a large figure, when we look at the whys of that figure it opens up opportunity for us as an industry. That is in essence what Unitron is trying to achieve, they have identified many of the whys and are attempting to deliver a strategy that can help the clinician overcome them.
Hearing aid technologies as business support tools
Unitron (disclaimer: I like them) have not just introduced the normal run of the mill hearing aid technology. They have also focused on technology that can actually be used to support a hearing aid practice in business. The introduction of their Flex:trial and Flex:upgrade were the beginning of the strategy. The addition of Log It All has delivered the last piece of the puzzle. These technologies need to be looked at as business support tools, because that is exactly what they are designed to be.
Trust is the core of what we do in the retail end of our business, we engender trust in the people that we deal with in order that they will do business with us. That is the very essence of what we are doing when we test their hearing and then convince them to move forward with amplification. Unfortunately, it is obvious that in many cases we fail. That is not a commentary on us or our skills, it is more to do with people being people. Trust is not something that necessarily comes easy to everyone when they are about to make a big-ticket purchase of something that they know absolutely nothing about.
Flex:trial addresses the trust deficit
The beauty of Flex:trial is that it is a Practice friendly tool that can be used to engender and consolidate trust. By Practice friendly I mean cost-effective and it reduces the need for stock. The technology gives you the ability to send your prospect away to try out a level of technology for themselves. The Log It All feature addresses another issue that we have had in the past, they want to trial low-end hearing aids because their belief only stretches to the cost level.
With Flex:trial and Log It All you can allow them to trial low-end technology, have them come back and use the logging feature to explain clearly why they had issues in the situations they were in. The Flex:trials can then be changed to a higher level of technology and the benefits shown. Because there is a huge element of show and tell with Log It All it is clear to the Prospect that level of technology plays a big part in a better hearing experience. It isn’t you telling them that and them having to blindly believe you, the evidence is clear.
The hearing aid industry and the market place is changing quite dramatically, we as an industry need to adapt and come up with strategies that allow us to continue in business. Unitron and their technologies is doing that, is it the whole answer to our problems? No probably not, but it is a real good foundation or strategy to build on. There is no point in me re-hashing what the two lads have written, it is a well written paper that makes a whole shed load of sense. Give it a read yourself.