Ringing That Bell

In our practice, we have been including installed home loops with the purchase of T coil equipped hearing aids for 10 years. We find that our patients are happier with their devices since they can once again successfully hear and enjoy watching TV.   Our return rates are reduced and our patients are more likely to tell their friends about the “amazing” hearing aid technology now available.  Of course, we all know that induction loops have been around for 60 years.  It’s not new nor is it an expensive feature in a hearing aid. To our patients who spend many hours watching TV though, it’s a miracle.

We have a friend who was so successful during the .com years that he was able to “retire” before age 40.  He heard about our looping efforts and thought,

“If the Diles are installing loops at this rate, let’s take their message to the industry at large.  As distributors of the loop systems, we’ll make a fortune!” 

Let me emphasize, this friend of ours was a C level executive and under his leadership his company went public. He and his company were the darlings of Wall Street, back n the day.

Full of enthusiasm and a solid business plan, off we went to create a company that would sell home loop systems to hearing care professionals.  If the hearing care provider would include an installed home loop along with Tcoil equipped hearing aids, their patients (like ours), would get more out of their hearing aids. They would be less likely to return and would spread the good word to their friends, neighbors and physicians…..a win for the cnsumer /a win for the hearing care professional /a win for our new company……right? Failure was not an obvious option.

We presented at national and regional meetings about the benefits to both the practice and the patient (ADA, HLAA, among others). We lectured on how easy it was for us to find installers. We published a small study on our success in our practice, we participated in interviews, and did online Q&As.  We helped the supplier of the home loop create simple installation instructions.  We partnered with different manufacturers (who offered to include a loop with purchase), we traveled to offices to install loops for demonstration purposes.  Our once well-respected “.com” colleague personally crawled under dusty desks in offices while his audiologist partners would provide copious data about the benefits of home loops.  He’ll want me to mention that he stayed in some pretty crummy hotels in an effort to save money as we “built our business”.

Considering all of the connections we have as long timers in this profession, the business savvy of our friend as well as the proven acceptance by patients…… just how many hearing care professionals do you think we were able to convince to provide home loops with their hearing aids?

Few to none; certainly not enough to create a sound business.  Some hearing care professionals would listen and purchase a handful of loops that never got installed.  Fewer still would install the original loops and reorder once.  And even fewer would continue to place a small order.  None embraced our vision of happier and more successful hearing aid users through home looping.

With all of the combined enthusiasm and effort we just could not convince our colleagues to buy in.

In the next post, I’ll show you our “secret”.  In the meantime, I can report that our executive friend has entered the energy industry and is once again running with the big dogs.  Just this past week he was on the podium ringing the bell at the Nasdaq stock exchange, having been part of the team to take another company public! And, the best part is…….we are still looping and he is still a very good friend!


6 Comments

  1. I just returned from a Hearing Loop Community event in the town of Fond du Lac: Where among the 50 in attendance were three local audiologists, a librarian, the community foundation director who helped organize the event, ministers from different denominations (one minister came all the way from Sturgeon Bay – 120 miles away). There were smiles and tears of happiness: one mother spoke up on the benefits of the loop for her daughter who uses a cochlear implant…what an uplifting evening.

    Hearing loops benefit the users, the Places of Worship, A-V professionals and most of all the hearing care professionals. We will no longer have to spend time counseling on hearing in large venues and churches… my clients know that in those places they at times can hear better than the person sitting next to them – thanks to a simple telecoil and a hearing loop.

    Anyone reading these comments is welcome to contact me for more information. For the community event handout see: http://www.foxvalleyhearingloop.com/PDFFiles/letsloopFdL.pdf

  2. I am an early adopter too. We have 50 looped venues– all located in the Chicago area and loops are begetting loops. Bill Diles was an inspiration for me. When I heard him speak about TV loops years ago, I started providing loops with high end hearing aid purchases. People started talking about how great hearing loops work and I started publishing in multiple journals and speaking at multiple venues with Juliette Sterkens, who has done 250 in nearby Wisconsin. The Marriott Theatre in North suburban Chicago (Lincolnshire) just got looped and the comments coming in are convincing everyone that hearing loops may have been around a long time in Europe but are the future here in the U.S.

  3. Excellent article, Christine. I agree with you in all areas–except one: where you stated “None embraced our vision of happier and more successful hearing aid users through home looping.” We did!

    I, overall, am a big supporter of loops systems. Despite the naysaying of some colleagues, I have found nearly all my patients have appreciated the benefit of the technology and not mentioned any detrimental effects. We have one installed in our front lobby (with the assistance of Christine, a few years ago–thanks for the help!). When demonstrating hearing aid technology or completing a fitting, we bring the patient to the lobby, switch the instrument to “T”, and we get as much of a “wow” effect as we do when we demonstrate directional mic technology for reducing background noise. The home systems sell themselves. As a results, we have installed over 50 systems locally in homes, and word has spread to churches as well, with over a dozen installed and a few in the works. We donated one to a local playhouse, and they make the audience aware of the system prior to the start of every play, “thanks to the generous donation by Salem Audiology Clinic.” Good advertising, as we have patients specifying they want hearing aids compatible with this system based on the experience of friends and family who they were with at the play.

    We don’t force loop systems on people; some colleagues have advocated including one with every hearing aid purchase, but you can only include so many “extras.”; you can make the same arguments for LACE, remote controls, BlueTooth, Dry & Store systems, etc.–the “package” can simply get to pricey.

    We include a T-coil with nearly every product where it will be available. While persons with good low frequencies do well enough to not need it for telephone communication, I find they still benefit when it comes to loop systems. As a result, it influences my recommendations on product selection, as few microBTEs come with T-coils (but they ARE out there). I don’t do a lot of custom products, but T-coils are always included (space permitting).

    We are WAY down on the list when it comes to “top looped cities”, but we’re putting out the effort. Too many other areas in the business to concentrate on. Nevertheless, the benefit is there, and we applaud the efforts of those who educate the patients on their potential. Bill and Christine are “tops” in my book for this very reason.

  4. Thank you Christine for this article, and in anticipation, the ones to follow. I’ve used the (similar concept) article written by William Diles in The Hearing Journal (May 2006) in several presentations that I’ve shared with audiology and HIS students and to some clinicians. It’s a great business model – your 10 years at it is proof sufficient. Let’s hope that it will make an impact on the Canadian readers as well.

    Bill
    BetterHearingSolutions.ca

  5. I had a loop system installed in my TV room several years ago. None of my HOH friends have one, tho why not is a mystery to me. I still use the captions, but without my t coil & loop, you could do away with the TV.

  6. Looking forward to the rest of this series, Christine. The Let’s Loop America and complementary campaigns are making great inroads.

    Gael

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.