Getting a hearing aid is like getting a pair of prescription glasses. A person has to go to a professional, get an exam, get fitted, figure out insurance and all of those fun steps—which is probably why over 20 percent of adults who could benefit from a hearing aid never get one.
However, in 2017, the FDA finally passed a federal law making it easier to buy a hearing aid. Thanks to this, over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids could be in stock as soon as 2020.
Great news for consumers. Concerning news for audiology practices.
How to Handle the Change
First of all, don’t panic. Your practice is not going out of business, but your practice is going to have to make a strategy on how to handle this change.
There are ways you can showcase how, despite the fact that OTC hearing aids are going to be available, coming to licensed professionals will continue to be the best option.
Have a Plan
Consumers are going to be excited about the OTC hearing aid because it has the chance of significantly reducing cost and time spent on getting fitted, among other factors. Your practice needs to be aware of this and plan for ways to go combat it.
Maybe that means making a plan to make sure appointments are always on time, never late, so a customer won’t think, “Well, I could have just walked into the pharmacy and handled this in no time.” Whatever your plan is, it should highlight these three goals:
- Giving care that is exceptional and makes people want to come back for more.
- Running a practice that is profitable and with the times.
- Providing high-quality care in every aspect, from check-in to check-out.
Also, think about a reboot in marketing and some cost analysis. Is there a way you can remarket your practice, making it more inviting, showing how it’s more family-oriented and that you genuinely care about each patient? Can you do a cost analysis to you see if you can reduce prices in some way?
Highlight What You Bring to the Table
Your practice will be able to give customers more than just a hearing aid. Drive that message home. Craft a marketing strategy that will pull them and make them trust you.
You want them to feel like, yes, they could possibly save money but it would be for lower-quality care and they deserve the best, which is from your practice.
It’s also important to tell your current clients that these new hearing aids will not be for everyone. They’ll be designed for those with mild to moderate hearing loss, so treating more severe loss will still require professional assistance and monitoring.
And if these new OTC products aren’t fitted or programmed correctly, they cannot only be a waste of time and money but also harmful to one’s hearing.
Be Aware of the Situation
It may seem like the new offering of OTC hearing aids is bad, but if a practice stays up to date on what’s happening with this new release, it can be a big opportunity for them.
In fact, OTC hearing products could stimulate demand for more audiology services by bringing a national focus to hearing healthcare across the nation.
If audiology practices still are concerned about the introduction of OTC products, they should consider other opportunities for their businesses, such as only offering service to customers with severe hearing loss, or adding more treatment areas, such as ear health or managing life with hearing loss.
By continuously fulfilling your current customers’ needs, you allow your practice to stay strong as it is. However, ignoring the new introduction of over-the-counter hearing aids would be a mistake for any audiology practice.
This introduction will come, and it will come soon, so it’s better to start planning your strategy now rather than later.