The Future, Today: Digital Hearing Aid Industry Transitions to Patient-Focused Model
The technology to purchase hearing aids online has revolutionized the digital hearing aid industry. In the past, those who were hard of hearing sought care through a system that was centered on the provider. The patient made an appointment, traveled to the clinician's office, sat through a battery of hearing tests, spent hours being fitted for an appropriately-sized hearing aid, only to leave empty-handed because the hearing device still needed to be manufactured and shipped. When the hearing aid finally did arrive, if it was not adjusted properly, the patient was back to square one. Now, picture a time when you can go order hearing aids online, emailing the manufacturer your hearing test, ordering a state-of-the-art digital hearing aid and having it shipped directly to your house. When it arrives, most hearing aids will be ready to use right out of the box. If it is not properly adjusted, you sit down in the comfort of your own home with your free, manufacturer- provided software and, with the help of some virtual guidance, tweak the hearing aid until it is just right. Sound like the future of hearing aid delivery? It is called the patient-focused hearing aid delivery model, and thankfully, the future has arrived.
Why Complicate Things? Technology Simplifies the Science of Hearing
The digital hearing aid industry, like many others, is adapting to the ever-changing and increasingly technology-dependent world in which we live. As technology has simplified business, travel and entertainment, it is also simplifying the previously complicated world of patient healthcare every day. Whether buying a new digital hearing aid or looking for adjustments or accessories, consumers can now get everything they need for their hearing aids online.
For many years, we did not question the need to make several appointments and wait weeks for the medical products that we needed because that was all we knew. Now, because there is technology available that opens up avenues to alternative distribution options, many manufacturers and healthcare suppliers have already changed the way they do business to adapt to it, allowing you to order hearing aids online. Their efforts will not be in vain because, as is obvious when you stroll down the frozen food aisle and see the dizzying array of quick dinners available, consumers want it right, and they want it now, especially when it comes to something as important as their health.
If we are going to call this model patient-focused, what else do all consumers want? Options! Not only is technology allowing consumers to get hearing aids online, it is also enabling a wider variety of digital hearing aid to be produced, giving customers increasing choices for individual comfort, while providing cutting-edge hearing care.
In the past, many people with mild to severe hearing loss did not like the feeling that their digital hearing aid was blocking out natural sound from entering. As hearing aids evolved, technology enabled new designs to be created that went deeper into the ear canal. Enter the newest category of hearing aids, called open-fit. With this design, the receiver goes down into the canal, allowing it to remain open and enabling natural sounds to enter, no matter what level of hearing loss you have. The days of seeing your grandma's hearing aid at ear-level have past, and the latest open-fit, speaker-in-the-ear digital hearing aid technology provides the utmost in comfort and natural quality, while remaining practically invisible.
One of the most fascinating and revolutionary uses of technology in the hearing industry enables consumers to adjust hearing aids online, using technology interfaces or through cutting-edge software that adjusts the instruments automatically through sophisticated scene-analysis algorithms. This technology helps to create a patient-focused environment because customers have the freedom to be involved as little or as much as they would like with the adjustment of their digital hearing aid. Those who are more tech-savvy and only need a little bit of amplification will likely choose the "do-it-yourself" route.
After years of conducting business as a manufacturer-focused industry, digital hearing aid distribution is now transitioning to a patient-focused model. Thanks to technology and the innovative pioneers who are utilizing it, what was previously called the alternative model is progressively becoming the norm for hearing aid distribution as more and more consumers are ordering their hearing aids online. In addition to the patient-focused distribution model, technology is also allowing manufacturers to produce a wider variety of hearing aids that are better quality than previous models.
About the Author
Henry Smith is the founder of America Hears (www.americahears.com), a leading manufacturer and distributor of hearing aids online for over 26 years. Henry started the company in 1979, following a 15-year career at the Pennsylvania School of the Deaf, including his work as an Acoustic Technician. Henry is a pioneer in the use of computers and the Internet to allow customers to have a hands-on approach to the tuning and adjusting of their digital hearing aids. He strives to be customer-centric in all aspects of his work.