With the FDA approval of Over-The-Counter hearing aid sales, there is a lot of concern by practice owners on how it will impact their practices, their profits and their lives.
A few quick questions to answer.
- Is the sky falling? – No
- Should you sell your practice? No – though we’ve heard of at least one person who already did because of his unfounded fears.
- Should you move to Bali? – Not sure on this one.
Seriously, will OTC really hurt your practice?
It may not. Consider this:
- Access to hearing aids is on the rise. The whole OTC movement is driven by a desire to make hearing aids more accessible. And that desire is also driving things like the Medicare Hearing Aid Act 2019 and other legislation to cover hearing aids. Who will want an over-the-counter hearing aid when they can get a better one through a professional at little to no cost?
- Patients love working with you! The same study shows that hearing aid professionals enjoy a 94% high satisfaction rate. Your patients love coming to see you and prefer working with a professional.
- Patients don’t want to assess their own hearing. Studies show that only a small fraction of patients are comfortable taking on the tasks they’d need to do to make OTC work for them–things like doing a hearing test on their own or troubleshooting. In fact, more than 95% of people who had hearing aids (and 70% of people who don’t) went to a professional to get a hearing test.
Over-the-counter hearing aids are kind of like the reading glasses you can get at the drugstore. Sure, people buy them. But the majority of people who have trouble seeing will still seek out a professional.
Sell the Hearing Test (and the Hearing Aids Will Follow)
The fact that most people don’t want to self-test their hearing is key here. Not only do the majority of patients want a professional to evaluate their hearing, they want them to help interpret the results and fit their hearing aids. This offers a natural way for you to get people into your office, where you can check their eligibility for insurance and talk to them about the benefits of hearing aids, getting fitted and having a service plan.
I Still Think OTC Hearing Aids Will Disrupt My Practice
And it might, especially if you’re in a price-sensitive market.
Look, when it comes right down to it, there are two different types of patients. Those who will only ever buy the cheapest option, and those who will want the best no matter what the price.
You can try using the “more affordable options” to bring patients in. And we’ve seen some practices do this successfully.
But often this is more trouble than it’s worth, and offering cheaper brands can reinforce the impression that they are comparable.
It’s kind of like relying on discounting to get more business. You’re essentially training your customers to think they will get the same quality products and services at a much lower price.
And it’s not going to change the fact that some of them are going to go for the cheapest models.
Luckily there’s another option…one that’s brought Carl, one of our clients, an 18% increase in sales. You don’t have to fight the market or the inevitable. There’s a very simple way to go with the flow and grow your practice at the same time. Discover what worked for Carl – schedule a call!