By Gyl A. Kasewurm
Several of the sessions I attended at the recent AudiologyNOW! in Chicago highlighted the fact that audiologists could do a better job of convincing patients to take our advice. The concept of “selling” hearing technology to our patients isn’t always a comfortable one. That’s not surprising since we aren’t typically taught how to do that in our coursework. And yet, learning how to “sell” hearing technology to our patients is one of the most important things we do.
It doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out that helping more patients to hear better is good for business and good for our patients when they experience the joys of better hearing. But if you are one of those practitioners who has difficulty with the concept of “selling,” consider the following suggestions:
The first step is to start tracking appointment outcomes. Many of us think we help many more patients than we actually do. Most practice-management software programs actually track this for you. If you don’t have one that does, start a spreadsheet and keep track of how many patients you see who are candidates for amplification and then how many patients you actually convince to purchase it. You might be surprised at the results.
Convincing patients to commit to better hearing is actually not about “selling” something. It’s about getting acquainted with a patient, learning their hearing needs, and then coming to an agreement on a solution that best suits those needs.
WHY IS THE PATIENT THERE?
I find it helpful to take some time to learn what motivated the patient to make an appointment before I test their hearing. Doing this often allows me to gain a patient’s commitment to better hearing even before I evaluate their hearing. For instance, after spending time discussing a patient’s hearing problems and how it is affecting their life, you might say, “Mrs. Jones, you’ve told me that you are having difficulty hearing your grandchildren and that you no longer enjoy going out socially because you can’t follow conversations. If I can help you hear better in those situations, is that the help you are looking for today?”
Discovering a patient’s motivation for making an appointment is a key element in convincing the person to take the step of investing in better hearing.
People who have lived with hearing loss for a long time may have a difficult time understanding what it will be like to hear well again. Too often, we tell patients what they should do, but we don’t show them what it would be like to hear better. Demonstrating the latest technology and showing a patient how it improves their ability to hear conversational speech can be a very effective way to convince them to take action.
Our effectiveness as audiologists directly affects how many patients we are able to help hear better. I have always believed that promoting better hearing is like religion: If you believe it, it won’t be difficult to get your patients to believe it, too.
Gyl A. Kasewurm, AuD, is Founder, President, and Owner of Professional Hearing Services in St. Joseph, MI, which receives more than 16,000 patient visits a year. A former member of the AAA Board of Directors, Dr. Kasewurm frequently writes about and makes presentations on issues related to private practice in audiology. Readers are invited to reply to her Hearing View.