Patient Trust: Why It’s Important and Five Ways to Build It

According to the FBI, millions of elderly Americans fall victim to some type of financial scam or confidence scheme every year. If that’s not enough cause for concern, they’re being inundated by industry disrupters—managed care, discount plans, big boxes, and OTC (Bose and Apple)—after spending more than a year in isolation, fearing for their health as a result of the pandemic.

That’s why it’s never been more important for practices to establish credibility and build trust with patients.

Without the reputation, name recognition, and marketing budget of a major tech company like Bose or Apple, this is a practice’s best defense against growing competition, patient skepticism, and the lingering stigma against hearing aids. Because while we all know how incredible today’s hearing aids are and the profound difference they can make in the lives of those who need them, convincing patients of this is perhaps your greatest challenge.

So, what can you do to cut through all the noise and earn your patients’ confidence and effectively deliver life-changing hearing healthcare?

#1. Make a good first impression.

Because most patients are finding your practice online, that’s where you really need to shine. To establish yourself as the local hearing health expert, engage existing patients, and entice prospects, it’s vital that you have…

A) A well-designed, user-friendly website that not only highlights your expertise and credentials but also serves as a resource for people seeking hearing health information. Not sure if your site is up to par? Let our in-house marketing experts conduct a website assessment!

B) An excellent online reputation. Add Vidscrips and video testimonials to your website and Healthy Hearing Premier Profile flex space and make sure you have plenty of positive reviews on Google and Facebook.

#2. Be consistent.

Your brand image and messaging need to be consistent from your website to your doorstep, and with every interaction a patient has with one of your staff members. If you have multiple locations, each office should follow the same scripting and best practices in addition to providing the same quality of care. The only way to achieve this kind of uniformity is through regular, ongoing staff meetings and professional development. The Consult Development Programs are designed to ensure everyone in the practice is working together as a team to maintain a positive brand image, provide superior customer service, and support practice growth. Also, make sure that your hours, services, and other practice information is consistent across all of your marketing assets and channels. Even a seemingly minor inconsistency can make a potential patient think twice about choosing your practice.

#3. Be transparent.

Ideally, patients should already know who you are and what to expect before they ever step foot in your office. Does your Front Office Professional know how to handle price shoppers and address questions about OTC hearing aids? Do your providers know how to prevent and overcome common objections? Again, this is where regular staff training and meetings can have a major impact. With the right scripting and the right mindset, even the most skeptical customers can become satisfied patients. If you don’t already have a value statement, I encourage you to develop one and share it with your employees along with your business goals. Every member of the practice should be able to articulate why you and why your practice.

#4. Make strong clinical recommendations.

When making the recommendation for hearing devices, do you resort to showing patients the full smorgasbord of hearing aids you offer, or do you lead the conversation to a strong clinical recommendation? Patients are coming to you because you are the expert. So, make a clear recommendation and tie it back to their hearing test as well as what you’ve learned during the appointment about their lifestyle, hobbies, career, and budget. That way, patients know you’re not just trying to sell them the premium product but rather there’s a legitimate clinical reason behind your recommendation. It also shows you’ve been listening to them and are committed to finding a solution that meets their individual needs.

#5. Educate patients.

Education and exceptional patient care go hand-in-hand. Both inside and outside the practice, you should seize every opportunity to educate patients about the importance of good hearing health. In addition to attending/hosting community health events and creating educational content (blogs, articles, and videos) to promote across your digital channels, you should always have a collection of up-to-date educational materials in your office. You never know—sending a reluctant patient home with a brochure to review with their loved ones could just provide the push they need to move forward in their hearing journey. It’s also important for providers to explain the blank audiogram before putting patients in the booth. This helps patients and their companions understand what to look for, thus creating greater transparency throughout the testing process.

Industry disruptors and COVID-19 aren’t going away any time soon. But if you and your entire team can openly, honestly, and effectively communicate with patients, then you will lessen their skepticism and increase their trust, leading to greater satisfaction and retention.

Consult can help.
Learn more about our Development Programs!

About the Author

Leah Breuers is the Director of Vendor Relations and Key Account Manager. She has extensive experience in the medical field selling and managing multi-million dollar businesses with a strong focus on customer service, training, increasing profitability. Before joining Consult in 2009, Leah worked both inside and outside the medical industry for emerging and Fortune 500 companies. In her time with the organization, Leah has worked with some of the largest, most engaged accounts and has routinely grown her portfolio by double digits year over year.

Three Questions to Ask Your New Hire After Three Months

The first few months of a new hire’s employment are crucial in determining whether or not they are going to succeed. In fact, up to 20 percent of all new hires resign within the first 45 days. This is an enormous loss for the business given the time and money spent to recruit that person in the first place.

Making sure new employees have all the necessary tools and training they need to be effective in their roles is imperative. If you don’t already have a formal 30-60-90 day onboarding plan in place, it’s time to fix that. Not only are properly onboarded employees 50 percent more productive, but they’re also 58 percent more likely to be with the organization after three years. Because the first few months on the job are usually very hectic for new hires, the 90-day mark is a great time for managers to check in to see how they’re acclimating. You might be surprised how much you can learn about new employees, your managerial style, and your company just by asking a few simple questions. Below are three questions that are guaranteed to provide a lot of valuable feedback on how happy, comfortable, and engaged your new hire is:

“Tell me about your best day and your worst day.”

This is a great icebreaker question that can reveal a lot about the type of work a new hire enjoys doing, how much passion he/she has for the job, and how he/she might deal with change or adversity. It also gives you greater insight into what a typical day is like for this person, as well as the impact of his/her responsibilities on customers and driving opportunities for the practice. New hires may have trouble articulating specific likes and dislikes since, as previously noted, the first three months can be a bit of a blur.

Challenge them to provide at least one example of something that has and hasn’t gone well. There could be instances where they remember feeling elated about a specific task and/or deflated about a decision they made. Chances are your new hire has already faced at least a few challenges. It could be anything from not knowing where to find a particular item to not seeing eye-to-eye with a strong personality in the office. However big or small, this is your chance to uncover and address any concerns or issues that could negatively affect your new hire’s performance and contentment. The sooner, the better.

“What would you do differently?”

Three months is just enough time for a new employee to get a firm grasp on how the business operates and what’s expected of them but not long enough for them to get stuck in a rut. That’s why it’s the perfect time to solicit their honest opinions and suggestions. They may point out inefficiencies you weren’t aware of. They may have an eye-opening recommendation that could improve your current processes while also cutting costs. Keep an open mind and remember that you hired this person for a reason. Really listen to what they have to say, take notes, and make sure they feel heard. Empowering your new employees to speak up and openly contribute ideas helps you build trust with them. You’re also planting the seeds of their professional development by encouraging them to think like a leader and continuously seek out possible areas for improvement.

“How can I help you succeed?”

This is an excellent question to ask new hires for several different reasons. First, it’s a less daunting way to essentially ask “How can I be a better manager for you?” It’s important to let your staff know that you are open to discussing your own performance to ensure you’re creating the best possible work environment for them. Second, you’ll likely find out if the employee has everything he/she needs to be productive and if there’s anything he/she is still unclear on. Perhaps this person would benefit from having access to a particular program or there’s an inexpensive tool that would help him/her get work done faster. It could be an easy fix but the only way to know is to ask. Lastly, asking this question will give you an idea of where some additional training might be needed for your new employees to strengthen their skills and become the best versions of themselves.

The ultimate goal of the 90-day review/check-in with your new employees is to set them up for long-term success. So, soliciting their feedback isn’t enough—you need to follow up! Acknowledging then acting on some of the discussion points will show the employee that you truly care about his/her feelings, well-being, input, and professional development. As a leader, you need to build a foundation of trust and respect before your business and employees can grow together.

For help with hiring and onboarding new employees, turn to our experienced team of human resources and recruiting professionals. Learn more about our industry-leading HR & Recruiting Solutions!

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About the Author

Jason DiOttavio joined ConsultYHN as a Corporate Recruiter in 2011. Previously, he worked as an agency recruiter for a staffing firm specializing in IT/Administrative roles including such large companies as Dietz & Watson. When not working, Jason enjoys spending time with his wife and two young daughters. He’s also obsessed with cooking shows and finding new ice cream and donut shops.

How to Build Your Company Brand by Hiring for Culture and Engagement

It’s estimated that there will be 20,000 job openings for audiologists in the U.S. by 2028. Unfortunately, there are not enough licensed professionals in the field, audiology programs in the U.S., or students in those programs to keep up with accelerating demand. In fact, there may be more audiologists retiring from the profession over the next decade than entering it.

When you take this dearth of providers and factor in the cost of hiring new employees (an average of $4,000+ per hire), the cost of employee churn (fees paid, human capital involved with the onboarding process, downtime to train), and the damage done to your staff morale and patients’ perception of your practice, the price of failure becomes quite clear.

Ultimately, for your business to be successful, you need to be competitive in identifying, attracting, and hiring top talent. If you don’t hire the best people, your competitors will—it’s a zero-sum game. The upside is that when you get it right and hire the best, you’ll be in a great position to develop the culture you need to take your practice to the next level and become an “Employer of Choice” in the hearing healthcare field.

Hiring for Attitude & Culture

Your “brand” is who you are. It’s reflected to the outside world through the prism of your practice culture. It’s how your community, patients, employees, and competitors perceive you. For better or worse, it’s best reflected by the team you’ve assembled. The good news is that this is all within your control. Should you desire a different culture, a better brand, you can create it. And you do that by hiring the right people.

To define “the right people” in the context of hiring, we should start by reviewing the difference between skills and traits: skills are relatively easy to teach or develop while traits are very difficult to teach or develop. Now consider how you vet and weigh skills and traits when making hiring decisions. Why are skills so important to you and could traits be even more important? Remember: the traits of your employees will rarely change, the collection of traits across your entire staff is your culture, and your culture is what defines your brand.

Researcher Mark Murphy’s three-year “Hiring for Attitude” study of 20,000 new hires at over 300 organizations showed that most “misses” (bad hires) are not due to issues of technical competence (lacking skills), but rather issues around attitude, attributes, and emotional intelligence (traits). Of the 9,200 new hires that failed, the vast majority—81 percent—failed because they didn’t have the right traits for the job, resulting in poor cultural alignment to the organization.

This shouldn’t be a surprise since skills are relatively easy to vet. Did you ever hire an audiologist who didn’t work out? Did they have the skills for the job? Or was it something else that led to their failure—attitude, work ethic, emotional intelligence (EQ)? You need to identify which traits are most important to your organization’s culture and then vet for them during the interview process.

This is my own personal list (feel free to make it yours!):

  • Work ethic
  • Coachability
  • Empathy (EQ)
  • Respect
  • Self-awareness (EQ)
  • Positivity
  • Passion
  • Energy

It’s not always easy to resist the urge to overvalue skills due to cognitive biases at play. Those same biases can also cause us to minimize the importance of traits when we make hiring decisions. Have you ever described your ideal candidate to a recruiter as someone who can “hit the ground running” because they “have all the required skills” or, one of my favorites, “requires little supervision because I don’t have time to manage them?

I’ve heard these kinds of statements a lot in my 20+ years as a professional recruiter. And when I do, I know that it says far more about the hiring manager and the organization’s culture than about the candidate they’re seeking. If you have a sound grasp of what’s teachable and are willing to teach it, you’ll stand a much greater chance of hiring the right people and building your best culture. While it may seem like an arduous task to build skills in an employee, remember that it’s almost impossible to build or change traits, attributes, or attitudes.

Building & Maintaining Your Culture

As an owner or practice manager, don’t forget that you play a very important role in building and maintaining your desired workplace culture—you’re required to lead! Be mindful of how you carry yourself and how you interact with your staff and patients. All of your actions and behaviors matter. These are the behaviors that effective leaders exhibit:

  • Exude unerring positivity
  • Communicate with utmost clarity
  • Possess a clear vision and work tirelessly to gain alignment to that vision
  • Listen with compassion and empathy
  • Build trusting relationships with words and actions
  • Express gratitude

You should intentionally engage in these actions, behaviors, and attitudes every day. Great leadership is not accidental!

Becoming and ‘Employer of Choice’

You’ve hired all the right people, they’re all highly engaged, and finally, you have the culture you’ve always wanted and known you deserved. Congratulations! All that’s left to do is maintain the culture you’ve worked so hard to build and solidify yourself as an “Employer of Choice.”

The best way to do this is to first, identify your “brand champions” (i.e., the best of the best, the most engaged of all the engaged). They’re easy to find. Simply look for employees who:

  1. genuinely enjoy their job/don’t just do it for the money,
  2. look for opportunities to mentor, and
  3. demonstrate the behaviors of leaders (see above)

Second, give them additional responsibilities! Any good leader loves a good challenge. When you give these employees opportunities to mentor, encourage them to evangelize your practice through social media, community groups, and professional associations, and hold them accountable, they will value themselves even more, and then they will thrive.

Conclusion

Creating a great culture, one that emphasizes growth and development, will demonstrate your organization’s value to candidates. When you offer opportunities to learn and grow, when you can site real-life examples of employee development, and when you can identify an evangelist within your organization who can speak to your culture of growth, you will then be in a great position to attract additional, like-minded employees.

Practices that utilize Consult’s industry-leading human resources consulting and staffing solutions see incremental increases in revenue and the highest levels of measurable engagement. That’s because our experienced recruiters vet candidates for the highest skill level as well as aligned cultural fit.

About the Author

Ernie Paolini is responsible for Human Resources and Recruiting Services at Consult YHN. He has more than 20 years of experience in building and managing technology-driven HR and recruitment organizations. His areas of expertise include behavioral interviewing, employee relations, compliance, and onboarding.

Thinking About Hiring a Practice Development Representative? Find Out What You Need to Know!

When hearing aid dispensing practices first open their doors, most of the responsibilities, including marketing the practice, fall on the owner. But as the practice grows, it becomes healthier for the practice, and the owner themselves, to hand off some responsibilities to other employees.
Ultimately your staff will become a key factor in driving your practice’s success. Excellent products, the latest equipment, and a great location are certainly important, but the depth, quality, work ethic, and attitude of your staff are paramount to the practice reaching its financial goals. It will also greatly impact the number of patients you’re able to help hear well again.
One of the biggest areas for growth in a private audiology and hearing aid practice is physician referrals. Studies show that over 60 percent of people rely on their primary care physician when it comes to choosing a hearing healthcare provider. So, it stands to reason that obtaining referrals from local physicians and through community outreach is essential to your practice’s growth.
A Practice Development Representative (PDR) can be an effective addition to your team to continually drive revenue and patients into your practice. However, like with any new employee, you must first plan effectively for how you’ll hire, train, manage, and compensate your future PDR.

Understanding Their Role

So, what does a Practice Development Representative do exactly? The purpose of a PDR is to promote the services of the practice to all potential referring entities within your market to increase the number of patients entering your practice from those entities. Referring entities can include, but are not limited to, primary care physicians, otolaryngologists who do not currently dispense, large area employers, unions, senior housing, assisted living centers, and nursing homes.

Planning the Hire

Prior to hiring any new employee, practice owners should work with their Account Manager and Consult Recruiter to create a proper job description. Understanding who you are seeking and exactly what you need them to accomplish is not only crucial for the interview process, but also to the new employee’s long-term satisfaction in the role. Define what your PDR will be held accountable to and how he/she will be compensated. For example, the number of daily visits, phone calls, contacts, appointments made (and kept), and the revenue expected from his/her efforts. Using this job description during the interview process is the best way to set clear expectations with potential hires on how their performance will be judged and how they will be compensated.

The Interview Process

During the interview process look for the specific characteristics and qualifications called for in your plan/job description. Here are some key attributes we have identified over the years in successful PDRs:
  • Sales experience
  • Motivated by success and financial reward
  • Self-starter
  • Accountable to numbers in their previous jobs
  • Strong oral and writing skills
  • Strong organizational skills
Find out why each candidate responded to your ad (“Why do you want to do this job?”). Ask how they have been managed in the past (was there a quota or specific numbers that needed to be met? If so, how successful were they at hitting those numbers?). Look for a motivated self-starter who was a significant contributor to his/her last employer. Ascertain what strengths the candidates can bring to the position. Ask them to discuss precise past experiences that are related to your needs, specifically their sales experience. Have them describe the ideal sales job and tell you about a career goal they met and why it was important to them. Additionally, ask candidates to describe their ability as a market developer (did they ever call on medical practices and if so, what were their results?). Ask them to tell you about the two most common objections they faced and how they overcame them. Lastly, make sure this is a person you feel comfortable making the face of your practice in your community.

Training

Let’s assume the person you hire has all the basic skills to be successful in your practice. He/she still needs training that is specific to your practice, especially if he/she hasn’t previously worked in the medical field. Someone in your practice must be responsible for training your new PDR. Create a 30-day onboarding plan that outlines what will happen on each day and who is responsible to make sure it happens. This is another time when you can lean heavily on your Account Manager and/or Consult Recruiter. Like many practice owners, you may be too busy seeing patients to handle training new hires. Nevertheless, the success of your PDR relies on how competently this part of the process is fulfilled. Again, there is no need for you to go this alone—Consult has more than 25 years of experience training employees and getting them up to speed quickly. So, lean on us!

Compensation

Many compensation plans exist for PDRs. In formulating your plan, make sure it controls the cost of dispensing, motivates high performance, and allows for meaningful assessment (and reward) for growing your practice. Compensation plans typically include a base salary plus commission. Commission is usually paid on the profit margin of hearing aids after referrals or appointments generate a net profit that is some multiple of their salary. The right plan, along with the right candidate, will create a win-win situation for increasing revenue for your practice and the service being provided to your patients.

If you’re unsure hiring a PDR is the right decision for your practice or want to learn more about the position, don’t hesitate to reach out to your Account Manager. Or click here to learn more about Consult’s industry-leading recruiting services.

About the Author

Pat Marotta is an Account Manager in the East Region and has been with the organization since 1998. After dispensing hearing aids for six years, Pat became the New England Regional Manager for Beltone where he primarily worked with dispensers to increase market share through advertising and manpower and set up more efficient office processes and procedures. Pat has worked in the hearing healthcare field, on all sides of the business, for over 30 years.

Seven Tips for Protecting Your Business’s Data

It’s Monday morning. You arrive at the office early to get a jump on the week ahead. You log into your computer, take a sip of coffee, and suddenly you have a sinking feeling as you read the message on your screen: “All your files have been encrypted. Pay the ransom within 72 hours or say goodbye to your files forever.”

This is something no business owner ever wants to experience. Maybe you can afford to pay the ransom. Maybe not. Maybe the hacker will send you the decryption key. Maybe not. Maybe you can get by without those files and still stay in business. Maybe not.

What do you do?

Ideally, you’ll never find yourself in this situation because you’ve taken preventative measures. Sounds complicated, right? Yes, cybersecurity is complicated. It can also be overwhelming and expensive. It’s certainly not fun (well, for most people). And while there’s no guaranteed protection from these types of attacks, the good news is, a few simple measures can greatly reduce your risk.

Let’s put things in perspective: protecting your data is a bit like protecting your home. You have no way of knowing if a burglar will ever pay you a visit or how he/she might attempt to get in, so you’ll need to make some decisions. You already have locks on your doors and windows, but you may also choose to install an alarm system, or video cameras, or get a large dog. Maybe you’ll opt for all of the above. The point is, whatever measures you take are better than taking no measures at all.

When it comes to protecting your business’s data, leaving your front door wide open shouldn’t be an option. At least consider taking these seven basic steps to boost your cybersecurity:

1. Be smart about your passwords.

Use unique passwords for all online accounts, and remember that when it comes to passwords, longer is stronger. Passphrases that include upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols work well. Something along the lines of “I’m so glad 2020 is behind us!” is far more secure than “mary88.” Using unique passwords for different accounts is important so that a hacker can’t access all of your accounts if he/she gains access to one of your passwords. I know what you’re thinking: “But remembering all those passwords is way too difficult!” That’s where a password manager comes in. Password managers can securely store your passwords so that you no longer need to memorize them. LastPass is a good option, but there are many others out there as well.

2. Use multi-factor authentication where possible.

Huh? Multi-what?? Multi-factor authentication (MFA) simply means a user will need more than just your username and password to access your account. The most common form of MFA involves entering a 6-digit code that has been texted to your cell phone after you’ve entered your username and password. In this case, a hacker would need your username, password, and cell phone in order to access your account. This is an important layer of security for your most critical accounts, including your financial accounts, password manager, and yes, even your email.

3. Keep your software up to date.

When Windows says it has updates to install, don’t put them off. The same goes for your anti-virus software (more on that later) and the operating systems on your mobile devices. The bad guys continue to find ways to hack into various systems. That’s why software companies are constantly releasing patches to plug the holes that hackers have exploited. Be sure to help them plug those holes!

4. Install anti-virus software.

Microsoft Defender comes standard with Windows 10 at no extra cost. Symantec and McAfee are also good options. Choose your software, install it on every computer in your office, and keep it updated. This may be your last line of defense.

5. Never share credentials.

Assign unique accounts (email, practice management software, etc.) to all employees, limit their permissions, and NEVER share your passwords with them. If an employee leaves, disable his or her account immediately. A disgruntled employee with access to your accounts can do a great deal of damage.

6. Lock your screen.

Getting up to grab a cup of coffee? Press the Windows Key and L on your keyboard before you get up. It only takes a fraction second. Never leave your computer unlocked. Remember that disgruntled employee we just mentioned? Don’t take a chance—just lock the computer and re-enter your password when you return. Again, it only takes a second.

7. Educate your employees.

Countless ransomware (and other cyber) attacks begin with a simple phishing email. This is an email that appears to come from a reputable source, maybe your bank, a vendor, or even an employee. These emails typically contain malicious attachments or links, or in some cases, they simply aim to start a dialogue with you in the hopes of tricking you into giving up information (account credentials, social security number, etc.). Learn about phishing and educate your team. Talk about it often. Sure, your employees will probably get tired of hearing about it, but they also might think twice before clicking on a link that promises a $100 gift card.

There are many more steps that you can take to protect yourself and your business from cyberattacks (data backups, secure Wi-Fi, firewalls, etc.). And although no one is ever completely safe from cyber threats, every step listed above will bolster your security and reduce your chances of becoming a victim. You don’t need to have Fort Knox-level security—just don’t leave your front door wide open.

About the Author

Bob Lind is the Director of IT and Project Management at Consult YHN. He joined the company in 2011 and has over 25 years of experience in the Information Technology field. When he’s not trying to mitigate cyber threats, Bob enjoys wine tasting with his wife and playing lead guitar for a local classic rock cover band.