NY Times: Smarter Living

The New York Times runs an occasional column called “Smarter Living”.  Some of the information you could come across there, should you read it, involves things like “forgiving yourself” by writing yourself a letter, or explaining why people who save or give themselves time are often more satisfied than people who just buy things in order to become “satisfied”.[1]

And, since I tend to relate most things to audiology, including the NY Times, these suggestions reminded me that my son has a philosophy that you might find as helpful as that advice from Tim Herrera.  I don’t know where my son came across this approach to things, but I am pretty sure it wasn’t from me.  It has to do with negative thinking.  It goes something like this: 

First, ask yourself if you can change what you don’t like or what it is that worries you. 

Second, if you can’t change it, decide if you should continue to worry about it. 

Finally, if you can change what bothers you, decide if it is worth changing. (This is probably a cost-benefit thing, and I hope that he might have learned a little bit of this from me.)

I wish I had come across this way of managing bothersome things a little earlier in my life. It could have helped in a couple of situations that caused me grief. It could have helped me deal with a few patients whom I remember with cringes (I couldn’t change them).  It definitely could have made my business life easier when it came to dealing with many issues that constituted a business day (I could have changed many of those issues). I would have minimized a lot of my stress.

For example, when considering the purchase of new equipment, isn’t it easier to justify the purchase when one forgets about the price and instead focuses on the expectation of return on the investment? 


If this equipment generates more information about the patient’s hearing loss, can be justified with clinical data?  If so, it’s of value to the patient. Are the odds good that it can pay for itself? Isn’t that enough?  Isn’t that what professionalism requires?


Gus Mueller had a recent AudiologyOnline course that talked about the necessity of doing real ear measures on every patient and every amplified ear.[2]  A additional issue worth considering here, beyond that of every one should do real ear measures, is that if you must do these tests—you cannot alter the “best practices” protocols and eliminate them—wouldn’t you be better off ceasing to worry, accepting the challenge, buying the best equipment possible, and getting on with it?  Figure out how to work it into your billing structure. An audiologist or clinic is allowed to charge for clinical services—and to bill third parties for these services. If the third party refuses or denies payment, and assuming that you operate the business in accordance with up-to date billing procedures, it’s OK to bill the patient. If there is value in this procedure, the front office task is to figure out how to bill and get paid.  The benefit to the patient will be obvious to you and the patient—read Gus’s paper if you don’t believe this.


In the long run, the increased, documentable, patient success should be sufficient to elicit things like, oh, say, patient referrals from impressed physicians, a better reputation in your clinical neighborhood, to say nothing of the potential good outcome reports to third party payers.  (This last may require a little nudging on your part.)  You will win when the patient wins first.


Consider another situation.  You don’t like the idea of PSAPs, DIY or OTC hearing instruments.  This is worrying you.  Your protests against these devices did not prevent the acceptance by the government, the patients, the industry, and so forth.

You are finally coming to the conclusion that there is little you, your colleagues, your associations, or your profession in general can do about this change. Maybe you should stop worrying at this point.  Or, you could keep battling, and….

Perhaps you can figure out what separates you from all the other businesses that sell amplifying devices.  Are you better trained?  Do you have more data?  Can you determine better, well-documented methods for treatment? Can you be more successful in your care?  Can you make these new things “positive”?

And, finally, you get to decide if this change is worth it.  I will thank my son on your behalf.



[1] Herrera, Tim, Smarter Living, New York Times Online, Nov. 27, 2017.

[2] Mueller, H.G., 20Q: Hearing Aid Verification – Can You Afford Not To? Accessed on line at AudiologyOnline.com, Nov. 20, 2017.



About Mike Metz

Mike Metz, PhD, has been a practicing audiologist for over 45 years, having taught in several university settings and, in partnership with Bob Sandlin, provided continuing education for audiology and dispensing in California. Mike owned and operated a private practice in Southern California for over 30 years. He has been professionally active in such areas as electric response testing, hearing conservation, hearing aid dispensing, and legal/ethical issues. He continues to practice in a limited manner in Irvine, California.

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