5 Reasons to Consider Buying Unitron Hearing Aids
It’s always been important to me to provide a wide array of hearing aids to our patients. I try to make sure each hearing aid that we deal with offers something slightly different to our patients, so that we (and the hearing providers we work with), can provide each patient with a very personalized hearing care experience. Recently, I began re-evaluating all the different hearing aids on the market, and the hearing aids we offer to our patients, and determined that if our goal was to provide a personalized hearing care experience, Unitron was absolutely a hearing aid brand we should be working with.
For those of you not familiar with Unitron, they are a brand owned by hearing industry behemoth Sonova, which is also the parent company of Phonak (another hearing aid company), Advanced Bionics (a cochlear implant manufacturer), and Connect Hearing (a chain of retail stores). Because Unitron and Phonak are owned by the same parent company, I sometimes hear people refer to them as “the same.” Although both manufacturers use the same chips for their hearing aids, the finished hearing aids and the features they offer to patients end up varying greatly. One manufacturer’s representative put the differences between the two companies like this- “Imagine you give two kids the same can of playdough; they both start with the same material but end up with a very different creation.” The same is true of Unitron and Phonak- both offer the patient and provider unique experiences.
For any of our readers (patients or hearing providers), not up-to-date on Unitron, I’d like to provide a very brief overview of why we decided to work with them, and the things that I think make Unitron unique to the hearing aid industry.
Reason #1: Unitron’s customer service
I recently read a book titled Delivering Happiness, by Tony Hsieh, the founder of the enormously successful online shoe retailer Zappos. The company (now a unit of Amazon) has been called “insane” and “fanatical” for the way it will do anything to please its customers. As an example, the company has even been known to shop at other stores for customers. Going the extra mile for customers and just doing the right thing is something that so few companies do anymore, that when you see it, it’s easily recognizable. It’s clear to me that this same philosophy permeates the culture at Unitron. Taken straight from Sonova’s website, “Unitron is built on strong, personal relationships…”. This may sound like run-of-the-mill marketing fluff, but it’s not. When you look at some of the ways Unitron operates (which I’ll outline below), it becomes clear that Unitron values people much more than things or policies. As a side note, I recently had the privilege of having lunch with the president of Unitron US, and it was refreshing to find a leader of a large company who was so in-tune with the needs of the end patient. From the top-down, Unitron is a company that understands their customers and caters to them.
Reason #2: Flex:trial- making hearing aid trial periods a breeze
Typically, when you start a “trial period” with hearing aids, you pay in full for your hearing aids and have a limited amount of time to decide if they are going to work for you. If they don’t work, you might be able to return your trial hearing aids, order a new set, and begin a new trial period. Of course, anytime you decide to make a switch and try new hearing aids, you’ve got to deal with the hassle of paperwork, finances, and waiting for the new hearing aids to be delivered. When all is said and done, the process of starting a new trial period can take weeks. In 2012, Unitron rethought the hearing aid trial process from the patient’s perspective and introduced a unique concept called Flex:trial.
Flex:trial allows you to be fit with hearing aids the day of your appointment, and with whatever technology level you want to experience. For instance, let’s say you’re a first time hearing aid wearer with a mild hearing loss and you just want basic hearing aids that will get you by for a few years for a relatively low cost. In that case, the Flex:trial set of hearing aids that you try can be programmed to the settings of low cost, entry level hearing aids. If during your trial period you find that the hearing aids just aren’t quite cutting it for you in all environments, you can go back to your hearing provider, and with the click of a button they can program your trial hearing aids to the settings of premium, high end hearing aids. You’re then able to see what a difference high end technology makes, and if that difference is worth the additional expense.
After a few weeks of trialing your hearing aids, and once you’ve settled on the technology level that works best for you, your hearing provider will then order you a custom set, transfer the settings of the trial aids to the new aids, and in minutes you are all set with your brand new hearing aids. Never has it been easier to compare apples to apples and ensure that the money your spending on your hearing aids is well spent. Often times, your trial period with Unitron Flex:trial hearing aids is even 100% free of charge. This “open platform” technology is not rocket science- all hearing aid manufacturers could be doing this, but only Unitron does.
Below is a brief video overview of Unitron’s Flex:trial.
Reason #3: Log it all- ensuring you’re wearing the correct technology
As you may know, determining the right technology level for your hearing aids is a critical decision. In the simplest terms, the technology level determines how well the hearing aid performs in different environments. For example, an entry level hearing aid may be great for listening to people in quiet one-on-one listening situations, but will perform poorly in noisy environments and will not distinguish background noises from foreground noises. In contrast, a high end hearing aid will perform well in quiet environments, and will also greatly enhance the clarity of speech in noisy environments. A lot of times, when you choose hearing aids, your hearing provider may ask you questions like, “how much time do you spend in noise, or listening to music, or in quiet.” Your provider will then make an educated guess about what hearing technology will be right for you- but at the end of the day, it’s just a guess. But how does one know they’ve chosen the right technology level? For some people, it’s as simple as saying “the hearing aids perform well most of the time- so I’m happy.” For others, a more objective analysis is helpful.
The Log It All feature by Unitron takes the guesswork out of choosing the correct hearing technology. Log It All works full time whenever you’re wearing your hearing aids, and captures information about the listening environments that you spend most of your time in. This information is stored in your hearing aids and can be reviewed by you and your hearing provider at your fitting appointments. You’re both then able to objectively verify that the hearing technology you are wearing is appropriately matched to your lifestyle.
Take a look at the reports below created by Log It All. Do you think these patients should be wearing the same hearing technology? Probably not…
The hearing technology level chosen has perhaps the greatest impact on your eventual success or failure with hearing aids, so it’s crucial to get this right, and that’s what Log It All is there for. In addition, because the cost of various technology levels can vary by thousands of dollars, it’s nice to have an objective confirmation that you’ve made the right decision.
Reason #4: Pick Your Perks- free accessories and warranties
One thing a lot of first time hearing aid wearers don’t realize is that when you purchase hearing aids, there are quite a few extra expenses that you may incur- from ear molds, to Bluetooth streamers, to maintenance accessories, to extended warranties. Ear molds and maintenance accessories are usually not too expensive, but accessories can get up there. Some people like to have a handheld remote control for their hearing aids, or perhaps a TV streamer that sends the audio from the TV to the hearing aids, or perhaps even full Bluetooth connectivity to all their media devices. These devices can add several hundred dollars on to your hearing aid purchase. Some manufacturers even encourage retailers to sell these accessories for around $1000! I’ve always felt like after paying for hearing aids, a patient shouldn’t have to shell out so much extra money for these sometimes necessary add-ons, and it seems Unitron agrees.
With Unitron’s Pick Your Perk program, included with your hearing aid purchase is your choice of free ear molds, accessories, maintenance supplies, or even additional warranties. The Pick Your Perk program from Unitron is subject to change, but the current offers available at the time of this post can be seen below.
Reason #5: Flex: upgrade- giving you options for the future
After you’ve had your trial period, selected the correct technology level, got your free accessories, ear molds, or warranties- you’re all set. But what happens if a year later, your lifestyle changes, and your needs from your hearing aids change as well? With every other brand of hearing aid, you are stuck with your hearing aids. You’re well beyond the stage where you can return your hearing aids, so your only option is to purchase a whole new set of hearing aids. But what if there were a way to simply upgrade your hearing technology? With Flex:upgrade, that’s exactly what Unitrons made possible.
Flex:upgrade sort of works in tandem with the previously mentioned Log It All feature. Imagine you’re back in your hearing provider’s office, and the Log It All report shows that your previous pie chart report has changed drastically. The hearing aids you’re wearing can no longer keep up with your lifestyle, and it’s time for a change. With the click of a button, your hearing provider can simply upgrade your hearing aids to a more appropriate technology level. Of course, this upgrade comes with a fee, but it’s much lower than the cost of purchasing new hearing aids.
The Bottom Line
My role at ZipHearing puts me in an interesting position to hear feedback every day from both hearing providers and patients across the US. When I assumed this role, I noticed pretty quickly that I kept hearing the same things over and over again about certain hearing aids and hearing aid manufacturers. After interacting with so many people in the hearing aid industry and getting a wide array of feedback, all the marketing spin eventually gets chopped up and spit out and only the truth remains.
So what is Unitron’s truth? In my opinion, it’s that their focus on the customer and product flexibility is unmatched, and that makes Unitron a great solution for many patients, especially first time wearers.
If you’d like a free phone consultation with a licensed hearing provider, please feel free to call us at 800-731-6794.