Unbundling, What If The Decision Is Taken Away From You?


What if a new disruptive player introduced unbundling as a business model?

By  Geoffrey Cooling



English: A pair of reading glasses with LaCost...

I had a very interesting conversation with an Optician recently. His wife, a qualified Optician is entering her second year in the Audiology F.D.S.C. He is now considering adding the service to his Optical Practice and had asked me to call to discuss set up costs, business model etc.

 When we discussed the accepted business model he stated that he would probably use a different one. In essence he was talking about unbundling for his business. We discussed his pricing both for product and services and it became clear that he had put some thought into it.

 I couldn’t stop thinking about the conversation during the following hours. Contrary to rumours, started by who knows, I can entertain thought. Miller, it has been noted! It occurred to me that there were several Opticians acquiring their qualification at this time. What if they all decided on the business model that was more familiar to them? What if they all suddenly entered the market with an unbundling strategy next year?

 How would the market react, would Patients find it attractive? How would the profession react, would they adapt or ignore it? I talked to one or two people in relation to my ruminations, frightened the tar out of one of them. The other dismissed it as problematic and bound to fail. I am not so sure, Independent Opticians that survive in modern Ireland are definitely the smarter ones.

 They have been through an un-relentless attack by national chains for the last few years. They have in essence survived the market change that we are seeing now. So if they are still standing it is because they are the top of their game. So how would we react, are we adaptable enough, are some of the bigger companies adaptable enough or capable of managing such a business model change?

 What about you reader, how would you react if unbundling was forced upon your market by a disruptive newcomer?



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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.


  1. Virginia Ramachandran

    Well if HR 2330 passed it would be a big problem for anyone unbundling their services because they’d have to bill the AR (counseling) component to Medicare and accept the rate that CMS chooses

  2. Insurance companies are starting to dictate this change though things like American Hearing Benefits and TruHearing programs which many insurance companies automatically enroll their customers in. This means people pay less up front, but then these programs tack on many charges and fees in the long run. For those with low wax production, no sweat, and clean lifestyles, this is a welcome change that saves them money over time. For those with heavy wax production, moisture issues and dirty demanding lifestyles, this change costs them more in the long run. I foresee many clients going without needed cleanings and checkups because they need to pay for them under the unbundled structure. I’ve already seen this happen with a few of my TruHearing and AHB patients. Patients are less likely to come in for their necessary cleanings/checkups when they have to pay for it out of pocket, and the service is so critical to keeping the hearing aids functioning correctly. A hearing aid is just not going to sound good when it’s dirty or when the ears are full of wax. Even with these “unbundled” programs that reduce the up front costs significantly, patients still perceive hearing aids as expensive, and gripe when they are expected pay for their needed services because “I spent XX on these aids, I can’t believe I have to pay for this!” I prefer the bundled model precisely because we can keep our clients clean without additional charges, and they come to their regular appointments as they should which keeps them hearing at the best level possible. Time and the market will tell whether the bundled or unbundled plans are a better deal for consumers in the long run.

Let me know what you think

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