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Best Practices Checklist

Finding the BEST Hearing Care Provider | Checklist Included

By: Dr Cliff Olson
September 11, 2018
Video Transcript

If you've seen my other videos, you already know that finding a GREAT hearing care provider is significantly more important than finding the perfect hearing aid.  That is why I compiled an 8 item checklist to help you identify if you have found a Great hearing care provider.

Checklist:

1. Are they licensed? - All states require a license for hearing care providers, if you marked no on this item, find another provider.

2. Do they perform Real Ear Measurement? - REMs are the only way to ensure your hearing aids are programmed correctly.  Don't perform REMs, go elsewhere.  REM VIDEO: REM: https://youtu.be/cHR0Oa6I-wY

‍3. Do they offer at least 2 different hearing aid brands? - There is no single brand that is perfect for everyone.  Make sure they have at least 2 brands to choose from.

4. Did they spend more than 30 minutes with you at your first visit? - Quality hearing care takes time.  If they rush your first visit, how can you expect them to take the time necessary to maximize your treatment?

5. Do they provide a comprehensive hearing aid fitting? - BEWARE of "FREE Demos".  A comprehensive fitting is more than just hitting the auto-program button and asking "how does that sound?"  Hearing Aid fittings should be highly technical and take a good amount of time.  FITTING VIDEO: https://youtu.be/Yd97SGiuwvI

‍6. Did they recommend a treatment plan? - Hearing loss treatment is a process. You should have a COMPLETE understanding of your hearing loss and the plan to treat it.  If you feel that they are just selling you hearing aids, then you are in the wrong place.

7. Do they pre-schedule follow-up care? - Time Flies! Good hearing care providers stay on top of issues before they become problems.  Your follow-up care should always be pre-scheduled every 3 to 6 months.  

8. Will you see the same provider each time? - Continuity of car is important.  If you are passed off to different providers or technicians each time you come in for care, your treatment will suffer.  Some of these questions you can ask before your first visit.  Others you may have to ask during your visit.  Ideally, you would select YES for all of these questions, and if you do, they are probably a terrific hearing care provider!

Dr Cliff's Thoughts

If you’ve read my other pieces and seen my videos, you know that finding a great hearing care provider is even more important than finding the best set of hearing aids. That’s why in this article, I’m going over my checklist to help you find a great hearing care provider near you.

Even the best hearing aids in the world don’t matter unless you have a hearing care provider who can maximize the performance of those hearing aids. I often think of it like a chef. If you have a fantastic chef and you give them good ingredients, they’re going to make you something fantastic with those ingredients. But if you have a bad chef and you give them good ingredients, they’re going to make you something not so good. It’ll probably be edible, but it won’t be as fantastic as what a really good chef could make you.

It’s very similar to how things work in the hearing aid world. You can have a device, but unless you have someone who knows how to get the maximum performance out of that device for you, then you’re not going to realize your full potential. Finding an excellent hearing care provider is just as tough as finding an excellent chef.

That’s why at the urging of many of you, I’ve created a checklist of things that you can look for in a hearing care provider to help you find the best one for you. You can download a PDF version of this checklist here.

1. Are they licensed?

Every single one of the 50 states in the United States require licensure in order to dispense hearing aids. So, if you go to a hearing care provider and they are not licensed to provide hearing aids inside of that state, that is illegal and you shouldn’t go to them.

2. Do they perform real ear measurement?

If you’ve seen any of my other videos, you already know that real ear measurement is one of the most critical things that has to be done to ensure that hearing aids are fit appropriately.

Without doing real ear measurement, you have no clue whether or not those hearing aids are programmed correctly to your hearing loss prescription. If you want to know more about real ear measurement, I highly recommend that you go here (https://appliedhearingaz.com/real-ear-measurement/).

3. Do they dispense hearing aids from at least two different manufacturers?

There are clinics out there who will only dispense one particular manufacturer brand of hearing aids, and this is a bad thing because you may not be the perfect candidate for the technology that is inside of that one singular brand. A lot of clinics will do this because they can typically get better pricing by ordering just from one manufacturer, but they shouldn’t be doing this if it is at the expense of what your needs are.

So, if you’re looking to go somewhere where they have the best option for you and not the best option for themselves, then you need to make sure that you go to a hearing care provider who has at least two different brand options.

4. Will they spend over 30 minutes with you at your initial appointment?

High quality care takes time, there’s no way around it. If they’re rushing through the entire process of trying to get hearing aids inside of your ears, then what makes you think that they’re going to actually maximize the performance of those hearing aids once you decide to pursue treatment?

The best-case scenario is that they will spend plenty of time with you to do a complete case history so they have a complete understanding of what your needs are, they will take time doing the hearing test to include speech and noise testing, and they will actually go over all of those test results with you so you have a complete understanding of your hearing difficulty.

5. Do they provide a comprehensive hearing aid fitting?

A lot of clinics will try to get around this by giving you a free demo or free trial of hearing aids. Essentially what they’re doing is that they’re putting hearing aids on your ears, hitting the auto program button, having you go home into your normal daily environments for a week to two weeks, and then they’re hoping that when you come back to the clinic that you’re getting enough benefit to justify spending the x amount of dollars that they’re going to charge you for those hearing aids.

And if you’re already willing to spend the money on the hearing aids, then what is their incentive to make sure that they’re maximizing the performance of those hearing aids? So, you really need to watch out for these free fittings.

Here’s what you should be looking for: Are they taking you through a step by step fitting process or fitting protocol to ensure that they’re maximizing the performance of your hearing aids? Now if you want to learn more about what should be included in a hearing aid fitting, then I highly recommend that you watch my video on hearing aid fittings here.

6. Do you feel like you’re being recommended a treatment plan?

Hearing loss is a medical condition that requires ongoing treatment. A really good hearing care provider is going to be able to explain to you everything that they are going to do to you and why when it comes to treating your hearing loss.

By the time they’re done with you, you should have a really good understanding of what your hearing loss is. You should have a really good understanding of which technology they’re recommending and why, and you should have a really good understanding of all of the care that will follow being fit with those hearing aids.

If instead you feel like you’re talking to a used car salesman just trying to get you into any pair of hearing aids, then you’re probably talking to the wrong hearing care professional.

7. Do they pre-schedule your follow-up care?

Really good hearing care providers know that over the course of a year, you’re going to run into little issues that they can actually take care of if they have you come in regularly. This prevents little things from blowing up into big things.

You don’t know how often I see existing hearing aid users who come into my clinic who haven’t seen their hearing care providers in years – and all of the issues that they’re having are things that could have been prevented by just regular visits with their hearing care professional. The thing that blows my mind is that all this follow-up care typically is already paid for, you just need to go in and use it.

8. Will you see the same hearing care provider every single time you go back into that clinic?

There can be situations where you need to do a walk-in visit where you need to get something really quickly changed out or repaired on your hearing aids. You may have to see a technician for that.

In the grand scheme of things, if you’re going back in for your regularly scheduled appointments, you should be sticking with the same hearing care provider who initiated your treatment, because they’re the ones who have a complete understanding of what your situation is.

If they are passing you off onto other technicians or other hearing care providers every single time you come back in, that is really bad for continuity of care. Finding a great hearing care provider can be difficult. However, if you’re willing to put in the work to find a hearing care provider who checks most of the yes boxes on this checklist, then you’ll be well on your way to treatment success.

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