Choosing a hearing aid provider – What are the key things to look for?
Hearing loss is generally not a short-term ailment. The chronic and permanent nature of most hearing loss means that it is most likely to be a life-long experience. In fact, in most cases hearing will gradually decline as time goes on due to ageing. The relationship with a hearing services provider is likely to be a long-term one with annual visits for hearing tests and hearing aid fine-tuning. It is therefore important to find a provider that is trustworthy and makes their client comfortable. In selecting a provider look for the following things:
Qualifications, certification and experience
To ensure cocompetent, quality support it is important to be seen by a qualified audiologist with at least five years’ experience and who is clinically certified (has a provider number) to see government clients (via the Commonwealth Hearing Services Program).
In Australia there is no regulation on who can fit hearing aids to private clients. In fact, anybody can start to fit hearing aids and see private clients without any significant prior training, education or registration. However, although there is no regulation for seeing private clients, there is significant regulation required to see government clients via the Commonwealth Hearing Services Program.
Approved providers to the Commonwealth Hearing Services Program are either an audiologist or audiometrist and require high levels of clinical certification and significant clinical experience.
- Audiologists complete a Masters degree in Audiology which is accredited by the Audiological Society of Australia.
- Audiometrists study through non-University (e.g. TAFE).
Independent audiologists own and operate their own clinics, rather than working for large chain corporations. This sets independent audiologists apart from the majority (80%) of hearing clinics in Australia who are either owned or strategically aligned with a particular hearing aid manufacturer selling their own brands of hearing aids.
Independent audiologists have the freedom to give clients the time and attention to deliver highly professional and personalised services tailored to every aspect of their needs. In addition, independent audiologists provide continuity of service – most likely clients will see the same qualified audiologist at every visit over many years, rather than a random provider who is assigned their case on a particular day.
Independent audiologists provide clients with up-to-date information and advice on the best available hearing aid technology for their individual needs and budget across all established brands and models.
The hearing aid industry has a poor reputation of over-charging customers with unscrupulous providers relying on clients’ limited hearing aid knowledge and their reluctance to shop around. Fortunately, more and more clients are requesting quotes and shopping around.
A good quality hearing services provider should be willing to be transparent with their pricing, either publishing pricing on the internet or able to provide quotes over the phone. More and more providers are now offering unbundled pricing so it’s now easier to work out comparative costs. However, its in important to understand and consider both the price of the hearing aid itself and the clinical fitting and follow-up services. Some providers quote a very low hearing aid price while grossly inflating the clinical service costs. Even if provider does still bundle products and/or services, they should be happy to discuss their pricing and service offering without pressure to purchase from them.
Unfortunately to counteract consumers “shopping around”, some aggressive businesses provide quotes that do not specifically identify the hearing aid models, but rather use internal (proprietary) names (e.g.“Gold”or “Silver”) making comparisons difficult. When requesting quotes, ensure they include specific product information – brand, model and level (e.g. Siemens Pure 7px).
Third party reference
Seeking advice from third parties can help in making better decisions about the choice of hearing services provider. Talk to local doctors, occupational therapists or other trusted care providers about who they would recommend. In addition, speak to family and friends who have hearing aids about their experiences.
About Sounds of Life
Sounds of Life Audiology is a leading, independent hearing aid specialist. We offer affordable hearing aid pricing on quality hearing aids (including virtually invisible hearing aid technology) from the world’s leading brands including Siemens, Signia, Phonak, Starkey, Unitron, Resound, Bernafon, Oticon and Sonic Innovations.
Contact Us today on 1300 744 432