Will Independents survive in the future audiology market?
I have had some interesting conversations lately with more than a few Independent hearing health care professionals. All of them run their own Practices and they would be judged to be quite successful. The conversations revolved around their future in the audiology business. Not just their future but the future of Independent audiology Practice.
Independents are feeling the pressure from the changes in our business. National and international chains are growing and getting better at what they do. Low cost sellers are becoming stronger, Internet sellers appear to be becoming more stable and mainstream. It all adds up to increased pressure on the Independent audiology business.
The question put to me was what were my thoughts on survival of the Independent audiology sector. Put simply, will we survive? With downward pressure on margin, increased competition, the entry of manufacturers into retail, more demanding Patients and the ongoing economic situation can we survive?
My answer is an emphatic yes, there will always be a place for Independent audiology Practices in every market in the world. People are people, no matter where they are or who they are, there is always similarities. Especially when it comes to the purchase of health care. People no matter who they are, want the best care, they want to feel looked after, they want to be treated by the best.
These are especially heartfelt desires when it comes to health. If you as an Independent audiology practice cater to those desires you will not just survive but thrive. Every Independent hearing health care professional should be actively striving to be the best possible. Not just striving to be but demonstrating that they are. Because in doing so they will secure their future. That doesn’t mean the cheapest, that doesn’t mean the loudest, it means the best.
Every Independent audiology Practice should be positioning themselves to be the best in their area. Updating their skills, updating their services, updating their testing procedures, updating their Practice. Following best Practice principles and adhering to the best processes and procedures. They should be positioning themselves, their Practices and their staff as the best.
The best will not only survive they will thrive. As we move forward Independent audiology Practice will change, we shouldn’t fear that change. We should assess how that change can best benefit us and our Patients. Then we should wholeheartedly introduce that change to our Practices in order that we are still a vibrant up to the minute alternative. In order that we are the best.
So simply put, the next time you are thinking will I survive in the future? Ask yourself am I the best that I can be? Is my Practice the best that it can be?
Another big threat in the US is 4th parties getting involved in the 3rd party payment process.
There’s a popular insurance company in our area that has partnered with a hearing aid “discount” group. Patients with that insurance have a reasonable hearing aid benefit, but they have to go through the discount group to use the funds. Since the insurance is so popular in our area, in order to keep seeing these patients, and allow them to use their hearing aid benefit, we ultimately decided to join the “discount” group – even though their prices are about the same as our regular prices and their policies and product selection are limiting.
The issue is that going through the 4th party discount group cuts the profit margins in half. Imagine if every insurance company had a similar arrangement – where their members had to go through a “discount” group to use their benefit. In areas where insurance benefits are popular, it would be very difficult for an independent practice to survive (in its current form) with profit margins cut in half.
I agree. The practices that will not only be successful but thrive, as you well stated, are the ones that do place the patient first and continue to be at the top of the Audiology skill level. I do believe we can and will persevere above the larger chains as their philosophy tends to be more retail driven. Whereas, the private practice that is successful should be patient centered and relationship driven. Good work Geoffrey!
I like your blog posts very much!
I agree also.
I do also agree completely !
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Great post. I only disagree with one comment; that national retailers are getting better. I’m not seeing that here in the US.
Sorry for the late reply, I think that they still concentrate on trad methods that have worked for them for years. Although many are investigating how to move forward in a consistent way online