How to Find a Good Hearing Provider
Ask any experienced hearing aid wearer and they’re likely to agree-
Finding a good hearing provider is the single most important part of the hearing aid buying process.
Find a good audiologist or hearing aid dispenser, and your investment in hearing aids has the potential to be one of the most life changing purchases you’ve ever made.
On the other hand, choose the wrong hearing provider, and your hearing aids could end up being a colossal waste of money.
The importance of choosing a good hearing provider can’t be overstated.
However, as a first time hearing aid wearer, it’s hard to know what to look for in a hearing provider, and if you do a web search for “how to find a good hearing provider,” you’re likely to find the same tired advice recycled on every blog post.
In this post, we want to go a bit deeper, and provide some insider tips to help you get this decision right.
Prefer video? Watch: 5 Tips For Finding a Good Hearing Provider
First of all, the standard advice…
- Read reviews: Look for reviews posted on websites like the Better Business Bureau, Google, and Yelp. As important as positive reviews are, you may learn even more about the provider/business by reading how they responded to negative reviews (if any).
- Check their website: Does it appear to be updated on a regular basis? Does it have a modern design and the functionality you’d expect? If not, it could be indicative that the business is not technologically-savvy. If the business’s website appears to be an afterthought, they may have the same mentality around other technology-related decisions. In today’s world of Bluetooth hearing aids, it’s more important than ever that your hearing provider is tech-savvy.
- Check their credentials: (if that’s important to you). There are two types of licensed hearing care providers; audiologists and hearing aid dispensers. Audiologists have earned a master’s or doctorate degree and will have more knowledge on the science of hearing loss, and on diagnosing/treating hearing loss. In most states, hearing aid dispensers are required to pass written and practical examinations provided by the state licensing board, but there are typically no collegiate-level educational requirements. Hearing aid dispensers will have a good understanding of hearing science and hearing loss, but most will not have the same degree of expertise as an audiologist. Both audiologists and hearing aid dispensers receive the same training from hearing aid manufacturers on programming hearing aids. Any (honest) hearing provider will tell you, there are good and bad hearing providers- regardless of their educational credentials.
All of the above is pretty standard advice…
You probably do all of the above before hiring any important medical or service provider.
After doing the above, you should have a shorter list of providers from which to choose.
Let’s dig a little deeper now.
Here are some more industry-specific tips to help you narrow your list to a few providers who may be the best fit.
Top 5 Tips for Finding a Good Hearing Provider
1. Contact the provider afterhours, to gauge their responsiveness and organization.
Response times, especially at the outset of a relationship when you are considering spending money, are a great indicator of how responsive and organized a hearing provider is.
Consider sending the business a message through their website, or leaving a voicemail, afterhours. If it takes the business a few business days to respond, this is a decent indicator that they may not be the most efficiently-run organization.
Why is this important?
When you buy hearing aids from a provider, you are beginning a multi-year relationship with them. Anytime you need a service appointment in the future, or need a repair done, or for anything else that may come up, you want a provider that is responsive and can get you an appointment quickly.
Ultimately, working with an efficient and responsive hearing provider means more days with better hearing- as opposed to days waiting for appointments or repairs.
We know- this tip seems odd.
The reason we have to include it, is because (without exception), it’s been our experience that responsive and well-organized hearing providers are rated much higher in terms of overall satisfaction by our customers.
2. If you know the model you want, ask the hearing aid manufacturer for a recommendation.
In every locale, there is usually at least one hearing provider who is considered the “strongest” provider in the area for any particular brand.
The manufacturers know who these providers are, and if you contact them and ask for a referral, they’ll give you the names of these providers.
If a provider comes recommended from the manufacturer, you can be pretty confident that that provider is well-versed on that particular brand, probably fits it almost exclusively, and with a high success rate.
3. Choose a provider that works with multiple brands.
If you’re not sure of the hearing aid(s) you want, it’s best to work with a hearing provider who is comfortable fitting multiple brands.
No hearing aid manufacturer builds the best hearing aid for everyone’s needs. Certain manufacturers are a better choice for some people than others.
If your hearing provider is well-versed on more than one brand, it’s a good indication that they’re up to speed on the latest technology available, which ultimately means you’re more likely to get the perfect hearing aid(s) for your specific needs.
Many hearing providers that work with multiple brands will advertise this information on their website. If they don’t, it doesn’t hurt to contact the provider (consider doing along with tip #1), and inquire as to the brands the provider works with routinely.
4. Find a provider that follows best practices.
There are many “best practices” in hearing healthcare.
For example, your hearing test should be conducted in a soundproof booth or room.
It’s also important that the provider uses some kind of fitting verification, like real ear measurement, to ensure the hearing aids are appropriately amplifying sound for your specific needs.
You can find lists of these best practices online, but you should know that opinions vary (even among doctorate-level audiologists), as to the importance of some of these best practices.
5. Get a referral from a third party service.
Third party referral services (like ZipHearing), which maintain a database of reviews on providers nationwide, can refer you to a reputable hearing provider in your community. An added benefit of using a referral service is they’ll also help you secure competitive pricing on hearing aids.
There are always outliers- exceptions to the rule.
As helpful as we’ve found some of the above tips to be, you can’t discount the importance of some of the soft skills a provider may have, like empathy, compassion, a warm personality, and how you feel when you’re with them.
If you feel they’ve demonstrated their expertise, and that your hearing care is their utmost priority, it may not matter if they don’t “check all the boxes.”
Rest assured that when you buy hearing aids, you’ll almost always have a trial period, so if you think you may have bought from the wrong hearing provider, you’re usually entitled to a refund if the aids are returned within a certain window of time.
A Question For You
Do you have any tips that we should add to this list?
Please let us know in the comments below!