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June 11, 2019

Who Needs Concierge Audiology?

With the advancement of cellphones, we literally have the world at our fingertips every second of every day. Gone are the days when you need to go to a department store to purchase clothing or find a dictionary to look up a definition or synonym of a word. Many people will even turn to the internet in an attempt to diagnosis their ailments rather than going to see their doctor. But I wonder if we have gone too far. Is the convenience of the internet overshadowing the importance of building professional relationships with our doctors, financial advisors, accountants, and so on? I believe, and studies have found, that as we replace these personal relationships with the internet our lives become commoditized. Which may be fine when you’re buying toilet paper or groceries but when it comes to the bigger things like health care and financial planning having a relationship with your provider is still indispensable.

Concierge Audiology

When I first considered starting a concierge audiology practice colleagues and friends of mine had many well intentioned yet misguided concerns;  they felt it wasn’t feasible to carry all the equipment, they thought spending hours with one patient was unthinkable, and they worried I wouldn’t be able to keep up with all the follow up and repairs that come with hearing instruments. Admittedly these were all valid concerns, but I was envisioning my practice from a different perspective. I was designing my practice from the perspective of the patient rather than the doctor’s.

Wouldn’t it be great if I could give a patient as much time as they needed to complete the testing and explain the results. Offer them the opportunity to be part of the hearing instrument selection process and actually listen to the instruments customized to their hearing needs before buying them. Best of all, wouldn’t it be great if I could program the hearing instruments right there in their home, or office, or a restaurant, or whatever environment they would be wearing the hearing instruments in.

What I envisioned then has now become a reality and I can confidently say it is not only the best way for me to practice audiology but also the best way for a patient to experience an audiologic evaluation. In this age of on-line living, I have re-ignited the personal connection that is lost when we turn to the internet. Now the only question I get from colleagues and doctors I work with is who they should refer to me. My answer is simple, anyone with hearing problems.

Who Needs Concierge Audiology?

The obvious referrals are the patients that have noticed hearing problems but not yet sought treatment. I love working with new patients even when they are seeing me reluctantly. Watching a new patient change their perspective on hearing loss and hearing instruments once they have been given the chance to see and listen to them is so rewarding. It reinforces what I do and shows that you cannot replace the professional relationship.

The often-overlooked referrals are those that are already wearing hearing instruments. It is important to remember that just because someone has hearing instruments doesn’t mean they are hearing well. Hearing instruments technology is constantly improving to provide patients with a better, more effortless listening experience. Someone wearing five-year-old hearing instruments may not be hearing as well as they could be. Yet this group is often overlooked when it comes to audiology referrals in general. What concierge audiology offers this group is the chance to put the new technology to the test. Do they hear better with the new hearing instruments?

The only way to know is to compare them in the environments where they will be used, whether that is with their spouse at home or in a noisy restaurant. The best way I know to explain this is by using my bed analogy. I used to believe that my bed was good and did not need to be replaced. Then I went on a weekend get-a-way with my husband and had the most wonderful night’s sleep in the most luxurious bed. Needless to say, after that trip we were in the market for a new bed. Why would we continue to have mediocre sleep if we could sleep like babies every night?

Another overlooked group for concierge referrals are those who recently purchased hearing instruments but are still not hearing well. Sometimes in this situation it is not the hearing instrument but the programming that is at fault. This does not mean their audiologist did a poor job but rather that they did not have the full picture when programming. What I can offer as a concierge audiologist is customized programming in the environment where the patient is struggling to hear. Using their current hearing instruments, I can modify the frequency response, alter the speech enhancement features, focus the directional microphones, and adjust the background noise management all in real time in the exact environment where the patient is struggling to hear. In this way patients can instantly tell if they are hearing better.

So, who can benefit from concierge audiology? Everyone from the first-time patient to those who have worn hearing instruments for years. Anyone with hearing problems who want an audiologist who will take the time to listen to their problems and work with them to solve it. Those who appreciate the convenience of having the appointment take place in their own home or office. Those who like talking to a person rather than a machine when calling their doctor and who appreciate having their emails answered promptly. Concierge audiology is like having your cake and eating it too. Call (773-454-4740) or email (boutiquehearing@gmail.com) to schedule your consult today.