Best Practices Checklist

Costco Hearing Aids | The GOOD, The BAD, & The UGLY

By: Dr Cliff Olson
January 15, 2019
Video Transcript

There is no question that Costco Hearing Aids are popular, but I keep getting the same question, "Are Costco Hearing Aids Good?", and I always respond by saying, "it depends on how good the Costco hearing care provider is at programming them, and if they follow best practices".

However, we don't have to speculate, I can actually show you how good the Best Costco Hearing Aids are, and if they are programmed well.  There are two ways to determine if a hearing aid is programmed correctly.  

1. Validation Questionnaires - These questionnaires allow us to obtain a patient's perspective on how they are performing with their hearing aids.  I personally like using the International Outcome Inventory for Hearing Aids Questionnaire for individuals who already have hearing aids. Questionnaire Video:

‚Äć2. Real Ear Measurement - This lets us measure the amplification output of the hearing aids to see if they meet a hearing loss prescription to ensure maximum audibility and speech intelligibility. ¬†REM Video:

‚ÄćTo illustrate how good some Costco providers are at programming hearing aids, I'll evaluate 3 separate hearing aid fittings of patients who have come into my clinic, and show you the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Costco Hearing Aids.

The first patient scored a 30 out of 35 on the IOI-HA which suggests significant benefit from their current hearing devices.  Real Ear Measurement illustrated a decent target match of the amplification to the patients Normal to Moderately-Severe Sensorineural Hearing Loss.  Overall, I would consider this a GOOD hearing aid fitting.  After some adjustments were made to the programming of their devices, they returned to complete a follow-up IOI-HA which increased from a 30 to 34 out of 35 points which is phenomenal.

The second patient scored a 19 out of 35 points on the IOI-HA which suggest poor benefit from their current Costco Hearing Aids.  Real Ear Measurement illustrated a poor prescriptive target match of hearing aid amplification, as none of the prescription was being met for a Mild to Moderately-Severe hearing loss.  

Overall, I would consider this a BAD hearing aid fitting.  Fortunately, this patient was fit with unlocked Costco Hearing Aids so they could be reprogrammed.  After reprogramming and the completion of the IOI-HA several weeks later, the patient scored a 32 out of 35 total points.

The third patient scored a 9 our of 35 points on the IOI-HA which indicates almost NO BENEFIT with hearing aids.  The Real Ear Measurement was so far off of the prescriptive targets for a Moderate Conductive Hearing Loss that one would have to assume that either the Costco Hearing Aid Provider either didn't perform Real Ear Measurement, or they didn't know what they were doing.  This let to over a year of frustration and poor hearing due to a lack of competency.  To add insult to injury, this patient was fit with Locked Costco Hearing Aids that do not allow for reprogramming outside of Costco.  Fortunately, this patient agreed to be fit with new hearing aids that were properly programmed for their hearing loss.  After several weeks, this patient returned to complete the IOI-HA and increase their score from a 9 to a Perfect 35 of 35.  Indicating significant benefit from their new hearing aids.

I don't share these case studies to discourage anyone from treating their hearing loss at Costco.  I share these case studies to prove that even with good hearing aids, the way those hearing aids are programmed will determine how much benefit you receive.  So if you don't have a hearing care provider who can maximize your benefit, I highly recommend you find a provider that can.

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