Editor’s Note: OK, put on your seat belts and prepare for disruption, or at least one professional’s view of such.
By Geoffrey Cooling
I read a recent commentary at the Hearing Review a few weeks ago and frankly it made me giggle a bit. In fact, it made me giggle a lot.
In essence, it said that people are far too stupid to pick amplification without the intervention of a professional. Okay, I digress, it didn’t actually say that but that is what it inferred.
In fact it read like the dying hissy fit of a doomed sector. Brian Taylor published an excellent refutation of most of what was said in the article, so I don’t plan to go over that territory. Brian is an exceptionally nice man, I am not. So, I would simply like to ask you: Why do you think you are special?
I am sorry, but the original piece was a typical “we are professionals you know, so we know what is best” letter. That is called paternal health care and even if some of what was said is true, it’s just not going to wash any longer.
I’m afraid I have possibly dreadful news for you — people aren’t stupid! Well generally speaking, more than that, the people who are innovating in the amplification space aren’t either. I would like to point you to the fact that rather simple and easily developed technology can identify a hearing loss, detail it and deliver the information needed for relatively effective amplification.
It can do so cheaply and easily delivering relatively good amplification customized for the person. It can also identify referable conditions and flag them.
Delivering Good Customer Experience
The people who are innovating within the PSAP/audiology/hearing aid space are also interested in ensuring that their customers have a good experience. They want their customers to buy more than one set of devices, in fact they want to ensure they buy many. Because in essence that is their model, tight margins and volume sales.
Contrary to many closely held beliefs, some PSAPs are exceptionally close in function to mid level hearing aids. The technology is dramatically evolving and will soon achieve the quality to ensure it rivals good high quality established hearing aids. Whining about it and having professional hissy fits is not going to change the evolution of technology. Nor will it stop the consumer happily buying said technology.
This technology is evolving. In fact, it exists because there is a market for it. It’s really as simple as that.
We are doing a really poor job of increasing our penetration rate within the potential market place. This provides a major opportunity for the interlopers; for companies with no legacy in the profession.
Time and time again the reason given for not moving forward with amplification is high cost. Why aren’t you listening!? You can talk all the damned fluff you like, it is beginning to sound like Mrs Flanders, “What about the children!?”
Yet again I digress, you can be sure the innovators are listening as sure as Hell is a hot place. They are introducing decent technology at prices more palatable to the market, they are designing routes to that market. They are designing processes and technologies to ensure that their products meet the needs of that market.
This is happening all while you whine about how you are a professional who knows better. See how that works out for you.
Time to Adapt — Now!
For me, the answer is pretty simple: find a supplier and offer a set of amplification devices at the price point. Give exactly the same service levels as the Innovators. Put your money where your mouth is, if you really believe you are the panacea for the people who purchase these devices, get out there and offer them something.
I mean be honest about it, let’s not dress it up. “Hey Mr and Mrs Bloggs, these are starter devices, we will undertake a hearing test, program them for you and then you are on your own. If they break down, call me.” That is essentially what they will get from the suppliers of PSAPs.
If you really believe that our profession is central to the hearing healthcare of the many, get moving and put your money where your mouth is!
Geoffrey Cooling is a regular contributor to HHTM and is the co-founder of Audiology Engine, a company offering web services to hearing healthcare practices. He is a qualified hearing aid dispenser in Ireland and worked in private practice. Following private practice he began work for a major hearing instrument manufacturer. Geoffrey has written about online strategies and business development for hearing healthcare on the Just Audiology Stuff blog since 2009. He has a passion for futurism, technology, online marketing and business development.
*images courtesy intuitivejournal, memegenerator