When seeking hearing care services in Tampa Bay there are many things to consider. Looking at all of the advertisements for hearing aids can be very confusing. The two general hearing care models are corporate (profit driven) and patient-centered audiology doctors (satisfaction driven). “Big Box” stores, such as Costco are based on selling as many hearing aids as possible, regardless of the consumer satisfaction, for current and future profitability. Patient-centered hearing care doctor services revolve around consumer satisfaction.
Many of the corporate models (Costco, Beltone, Miracle Ear, Audibel, etc.) utilize Hearing Instrument Specialists (6 months training) rather than Audiology doctors. Audiologists are trained in all aspects of hearing healthcare to include evaluation, diagnosis, and rehabilitation. Hearing Instrument Specialists are trained to sell/fit hearing aids. Some corporate models (Hearx/HearUSA) started with audiologists, but now primarily employ less qualified hearing instrument specialists.
While all businesses must profit to survive, large corporations are driven by commodity based growth and bottom-line profits. While some offer “discount” pricing, the follow up care can be substandard. Others actually charge higher prices. One common thread with many of these companies is that they have their hearing aids “coded” so that no one else can adjust the aids. I will often have someone come to me asking for help with their hearing aids and I am unable to adjust them because they are locked. Sometimes they come to me because they have moved and they are no longer close to a store. Other times they come because they are receiving very poor service from the store where they purchased the hearing aids. Regardless of the reason, they have trapped themselves in an unsatisfying experience.
Choose your hearing care provider wisely. Seek a patient-centered, evidence based practice, staffed by a doctor rather than a profit-centered, numbers driven store. There is more to your success than turning your hearing aids on. Counseling and follow up care can make or break your hearing journey. Contact the Gardner Audiology Doctors at 1-800-277-1182.