Hearing loss generally is not a short-term ailment. The chronic and permanent nature of most hearing loss means that you are likely to experience it the rest of your life. In fact, due to ageing in most cases your hearing will gradually decline as time goes on. So your relationship with your hearing services provider is likely to be a long-term one. You will at least expect to see your provider yearly for a hearing test and hearing aid fine-tuning. It is therefore really important that you find a provider that you are comfortable with and that you can trust. In selecting a provider look for the following things:
(1) Qualifications and experience
To ensure you get competent, quality support it is important that you are being seen by a qualified hearing provider with at least five years’ experience.
In Australia there is actually no regulation on who can fit hearing aids to private clients. In fact, anybody can start to fit hearing aids and see private clients. Ensure your hearing services provider is qualified as either an audiologist or audiometrist. Both qualifications 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 hearing providers own and operate their own clinics. This sets independent providers 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 providers have the freedom to give clients the time and attention to deliver highly professional and personalised services tailored to their needs. In addition, Independent providers offer continuity of service – most likely clients will see the same qualified clinician, rather than never knowing ‘who you are going to see’.
Independent providers offer 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.
(3) Transparent Pricing
The hearing aid industry has a history of over-charging customers (relying on clients ‘limited hearing aid knowledge and their reluctance to shop around). Fortunately, more and more customers are requesting quotes and shopping around.
Make sure you choose a provider who is willing to be transparent with their pricing, either publishing pricing on the internet or can provide it over the phone. More and more providers are now offering unbundled pricing so its now easier to work out what you are paying for. However even if provider does still bundle products/services if they are confident in the value they offer they should be happy to discuss their pricing and service offering and let you shop around.
One thing to note, there has been a recent trend of more aggressive businesses providing quotes but the quotes do not specifically identify the hearing aid quoted but rather use internal (proprietary) names such “gold-level or executive-level” hearing aids making comparisons difficult. If you get such a quote make sure you ask for specific information about the hearing aid – brand, model and level (e.g. Siemens (brand), Pure (model), 7bx (level))
(4) Third party references
Seeking advice from a third party can help one make a better decision on which hearing provider to choose. This is one of the great services we offer at The Hearing Place. We can recommend experienced, independent hearing care professionals in your local area where you can trial the hearing aids for FREE. In addition, if you already have a quote for hearing aids, we can contact hearing clinics in your local area to find out whether they can offer the same hearing aids at a better price. For independent, honest advice call The Hearing Place on 1300 911 990.