Six Easy Tips for Conducting an Effective Hearing Aid Evaluation

The most challenging aspect of addressing hearing loss is counseling the patient through the acceptance process of amplification. Even in countries where price is not a barrier, acceptance rates are still poor. Denial, cosmetics, stigma, and financial concerns remain the biggest barriers keeping more individuals from seeking treatment for their hearing loss sooner, before it takes a toll on their relationships as well as their physical and mental health.
Research shows that having a process for how you approach this important step can improve the likelihood your patient will accept the recommended help in the form of hearing aids. As hearing health professionals, we follow a process for conducting otoscopy, impedance, and the audiogram. Providers also need a process to guide their patients to accept the treatment of amplification. Here are six easy tips to try during your next hearing aid evaluation that will help you do just that:

1. Allow the patient to verbalize his/her difficulties by asking the right questions in the best order.

This creates ownership and identifies future objections to accepting help. Asking a specific question like “Tell me what you have noticed about your hearing” allows for the patient to verbalize their perspective. Alternatively, asking a vague question like “What brought you in today?” can often lead you down a less productive rabbit hole.

2. Use your “why” and the power of storytelling to establish trust, credibility, and a connection.

Conveying who you are and why you do what you do is a proven way of building rapport and establishing credibility. Trust and credibility are key in compelling reluctant patients to take the next step.

3. Involve the companion.

This should be a decision-maker with whom they communicate regularly. We are evaluating communication (“Who is it you communicate with the most?”) Typically, any medical or financial decision is discussed with family members, spouses, or close friends before moving forward. We know hearing loss also affects not only the patient but everyone around them.

4. Set the stage by explaining the diagnostic process to build credibility and expectations of results.

The power of visuals is even stronger than you may think. Simply show the blank audiogram and normal range of hearing in advance of the testing. By doing this, you are establishing expectations and reducing test anxiety that the patient might be feeling.

5. Demonstrate the technology.

When you allow patients to try the amplification, within noise, it empowers them to understand the impact of their hearing. Everyone should be given the chance to experience how amplification can make a difference.

6. Transfer your enthusiasm with a strong recommendation.

Excitement is contagious- patients are looking to you as the expert to tell them what they should do. Remember options can prolong action. They are coming to you because you are the professional who knows the best treatment for THEM.
I know what you might be thinking: “Six steps? Easier said than done!” The good news is that you don’t have to do it alone. Part of Consult YHN’s staff training and employee development program is helping providers deliver more effective hearing aid evaluations. Learning more about the many details within each of these steps will ensure that you or your provider(s) are helping more patients every day. So, if I could add a seventh step it would be: 7. Act now, ask for help! That’s why we’re here!  

Click here to learn more about the Consult Employee Development Program (EDP) or talk to your Account Manager today!

About the Author

Dr. Kari Londo joined Consult YHN in 2019 with more than 12 years of experience as a clinical Audiologist. She received her doctoral degree in Audiology from Nova Southeastern University in Florida. Kari has a deep understanding of the hearing industry, having previously worked directly with patients in private practice and ENT, as an Account Manager for a hearing aid manufacture, and now on the business side as a Consult YHN Account Manager. She is passionate about improving the lives of individuals with hearing loss and helping hearing practices grow by helping these individuals. When she’s not working, Kari can be found playing volleyball, socializing with friends, or enjoying the outdoors.

About the Author

Dr. Heather Carter, AuD., FAAA, is an Account Manager for the Northeast Region and brings a unique perspective to Consult YHN as a clinical audiologist with over 20 years of experience. She received both her master’s and doctoral degrees in Audiology from Gallaudet University, the only liberal arts college for the Deaf in the U.S. Through her graduate studies and clinical work, Dr. Carter has gained the expertise to help patients with all levels of hearing loss improve their communication skills. By providing practice development support and bridging the clinical aspects of hearing healthcare with the necessary business skills as a Consult YHN Account Manager, she helps her clients remain viable and relevant. Dr. Carter has two CODA children who are fluent in American Sign Language (ASL) and recently enjoyed a trip to her alma mater where they all were able to use their fluency in ASL to communicate on campus!

Patient Recall: The Key to a Successful Comeback Plan

During the COVID-19 shutdowns this spring, many practices struggled with finding the right way to communicate with patients. Overwhelmingly, practices that followed a plan and stayed connected to their database and/or used a service like Your Patient Contact Center (YPCC) to make calls to patients realized two great benefits.

First, those practices reassured patients that they were still there for them and would continue to serve their hearing healthcare needs moving forward. As business returned to normal, those practices kept patients informed about the additional safety procedures they put in place as well as any changes to their hours and services. A remarkably large percentage of practices were quick to implement curbside service and offer remote care options to patients who couldn’t come into the office.

Second, but equally important, it was their existing customers who felt most comfortable coming back into their clinics and purchasing new devices. Whether it was a result of pent up demand or increased family interaction placing a greater value on hearing healthcare in general, it was these patients and their purchases that led to the recovery of many practices.

Of course, this didn’t just happen overnight—it was the practices that put a concerted effort into patient recall that saw the quickest recovery to their business. These practices strengthened their patient relationships and stayed top-of-mind because they took the time to pick up the phone and call their patients. They checked to see if their patient’s existing devices were working optimally or upgraded them to newer technology.

In addition to being a smart business strategy, patient recall is and always has been founded in good healthcare. You need to remain in contact with patients—before, during, and after each sale—to maintain a loyal database. Now, more than ever, it’s vital to invest in patient recall. Not only is new customer acquisition expensive, but the industry is becoming more competitive every year. Leveraging your relationships with existing patients is simply the most cost-effective way to build brand loyalty, drive awareness, and increase patient referrals.

Finally, let’s consider another challenge practices face in maintaining patient relationships: rechargeability. For many years, practices have relied on free or low-cost batteries to keep their patients coming back. While certainly a great innovation, rechargeable hearing aids have significantly reduced the number of office visits patients need to make. That’s why practices need to put greater emphasis on outbound calls to engage their database. At Consult YHN, our most successful Associates make patient outreach a priority and are rewarded because of it.

When it comes down to it, you have two choices: hire an additional staff member to handle your outbound dialing or outsource it to a service like YPCC. The good news is that we can help you with either decision. We hear a lot of practice owners express initial concern about the cost of patient recall. What many don’t realize is that it’s actually an incredible bargain when you consider the end result: a more loyal patient database, increased sales, and most importantly, better patient care.

Click here to learn more about Your Patient Contact Center or talk to your Account Manager today to get started!

About the Author

Bill Connerton is the National Vice President of Sales at Consult YHN. Bill has been with the company since 2011 and has worked extensively with some of the largest practices in the country. He has developed and lead a team of Account Managers that drive behavior change in practices, including the development of business owners who partner with Consult YHN.

Five Simple Ways to Create a Five-Star Patient Experience

Think about the last time you received top-notch customer service. Did your doctor call to check up on you the day after a procedure? Did a restaurant give you extra sauces and napkins with your delivery? Did your accountant send a handwritten note on your birthday?

Now think about the last time you received terrible customer service. How many friends and family members did you tell? Did you rant about it on Facebook? Did you write a scathing Yelp review?

The truth is that the customer experiences we remember are the ones that were either fantastic or truly awful. And unfortunately, it’s usually the latter that gets the most attention:

Customers who have a bad experience are 2-3 times more likely to write a negative review than happy customers are to write a positive review.

Needless to say, bad reviews are bad for business:

80% of people will choose to go elsewhere if they read bad reviews about your business online.

A positive customer experience is key to building loyalty. As the saying goes, “a happy customer is a loyal customer.” And you can’t underestimate the value of loyalty:

Loyal customers are 5 times more likely to purchase again and 4 times more likely to refer a friend.

During my years working in a private practice in Florida, I oversaw all our community outreach events (health fairs, hearing seminars, Lunch & Learns, etc.). Anyone who knows me would tell you, I’m perfectly suited for this type of work. When I wasn’t in the office, I was out in the community, talking to people, learning about their hearing history, and conveying to them how important hearing is to their relationships, livelihood, and overall health.

Once you scheduled an appointment with me, you were my patient. I sent my patients appointment reminders, I called them the day before their appointment to confirm, and on the day of, I made sure to greet him/her upon arrival (“George! Welcome! It’s so nice to see you again!”). This didn’t happen overnight—it took time to build these relationships and good habits. I was fortunate to have a boss who pushed me to do more, be better, and try harder. Sometimes it was difficult, but the outcome was worth it.

I realize the Coronavirus has complicated what good customer service looks like. Healthcare providers have had to quickly adopt new safety and sanitation protocols to protect staff and patients while continuing to provide the same high level of care.

But the pandemic has also made exceptional customer service all the more important. Even something as small as extra bread with my takeout pasta seems to mean so much more. Years from now, it’s the people and businesses that took the best care of us during this challenging time that we’re going to remember most and be loyal to.

Below are sure-fire ways to increase patient satisfaction and build greater brand loyalty—not just today, but in the months and years to come.

1. Be accessible.

Today’s consumers expect and demand greater convenience in every aspect of their lives, including their healthcare. For younger and more active patients, offering services like online scheduling, automated appointment reminders (via email and text message), and live chat can be differentiators for your practice. Keep in mind that some of your patients are also more tech-savvy today than they were just a few months ago. With the pandemic forcing older Americans to remain largely confined to their homes, many have relied on video chat and other apps to shop, work, connect with loved ones, and even meet with doctors. The best thing you can do for your patients right now is to make yourself available to help them, especially the most vulnerable. Consider implementing curbside and teleaudiology services if you haven’t already.

2. Stay connected.

Now more than ever, your patients want and need to hear from you. So much that we recommend overcommunicating with them. Consistent outreach and follow-up with your database is crucial to increasing patient satisfaction and driving sales. Continue to update your digital properties (website, social media, Google My Business, Healthy Hearing profiles, etc.) to reflect any changes to your hours and services as well as the safety precautions your office is implementing. This should also be included in all of your marketing collateral. Use social media to stay top-of-mind with patients and make calling your database a priority. How often should you contact patients to ensure they purchase their next set of hearing aids from you? Click here to find out!

3. Make a good first and second impression.

Your website is often your patients’ first impression of your business. If it’s cluttered, outdated, slow, and/or difficult to navigate, visitors will have a negative perception of your practice (follow these ten tips to take your site from good to great). Just like your website, your office space should be a positive reflection of your brand and the quality of care you provide. Old or unsightly furnishings can suggest a lack of pride and attention to detail while a mini-fridge filled with bottled waters says, “We care about your comfort.” A fresh coat of paint and a fresh pot of coffee (or Keurig) can go a long way in creating a more inviting atmosphere where patients feel welcomed. Once it’s safe to have communal items in your waiting area again, be sure to have fresh new educational and marketing materials (flyers, posters, brochures, etc.) for visitors. Aside from offering valuable information that can help patients make the decision to invest in their hearing, they lend to your credibility as an “expert.” Finally, toss out all those old magazines—no one wants to read about the Royal Wedding anymore (well, except me, but that’s a topic for a much different blog).

4. Don’t keep them waiting!

How do you feel when you arrive to an appointment on time but the doctor doesn’t see you for 20 minutes or longer? Honor your patients’ time with respect. If you’re overbooked and struggling to manage your time, have your Front Office Professional (FOP) do a double knock on the door 5-15 minutes before your next appointment or a single knock when the patient has arrived. This can help keep you focused. Need more time with a patient or wrapping up a sale? Take a quick second and let your FOP know so they can inform your next patient. This is where having a fresh cup of joe and ample reading materials will come in handy.

5. Ask for reviews and referrals.

I’ve already touched on the importance of positive word of mouth but allow me to really drive the point home: nearly 90% of people trust online reviews as much as they trust their best friends’ recommendations and people are 4 times more likely to buy when referred by a friend. If you’ve done everything right and created a positive experience for your patients, then this part should be easy. A satisfied patient is already more likely to recommend your practice to a friend or family member. But why wait for that to happen when all you need to do is ask? There are several ways to ask for patient referrals and, I promise, none are as awkward as you think. In addition, you should be sending automated online review requests through your practice management software (email and/or text message) after each appointment. It helps to plant the seed while the patient is in front of you. Let them know they’ll be receiving a message then explain how valuable their feedback is and that you’d really appreciate it if they could take a few minutes to share their opinion.

Change is hard. I’m the first to admit this. But we all understand the value of good customer service. If you’re following the above recommendations, keep it up. If not, take it one day at a time and gradually make the changes needed to ensure that every person who walks through your front door has the best experience. As my mom always says, “it’s the little things that often make the biggest difference.”

Consult YHN can help.
Talk to your Account Manager or contact us today!

About the Author

Julie Gesuale joined Consult YHN in 2010 and currently serves as an Assistant Account Manager in the company’s Hospital and University Division. Her diverse professional background includes customer service, marketing, and project management. When not working, Julie enjoys spending time with her wife of 15 years and her two rescue dogs, Sheldon and Leonard. She’s also been singing in church and community choirs for over 25 years.

Opportunity Mindset: Why It Matters and How to Adopt it in Your Practice

What is an opportunity mindset?

I know what you might be thinking: “Uh oh—must be another one of those Consult buzzwords!” But, at least it’s not another acronym, right?

All jokes aside, opportunity mindset is essentially a way of thinking and doing—an intentional, positive, and action-oriented attitude. And it relates to everyone in the practice, regardless of his/her position. A person can only achieve as much as he or she focuses on. So, if you focus on finding, embracing, and seizing opportunities, eventually, you’ll enjoy more opportunities. Make sense?

What does it mean to have an opportunity mindset?

Great question! I can sum it up in one word: PROACTIVE. It’s all about being proactive in creating as many opportunities as you can, not only to grow your business but to help more people in your community hear well again.

It’s not sitting around and waiting for the phone to ring, but rather picking up the phone yourself and initiating a conversation with your patients. It’s asking patients who are satisfied with your services if there is anyone they know who could also benefit from them. It’s calling Mr. Jones after he failed his hearing aid evaluation and refused to commit to hearing aids to see how he’s doing and whether he has any questions.

Everyone in the practice has the ability to do these things—providers, front office staff, patient recall specialists, even directors, and owners. If you have one person on your team adopt this mentality, it’s a plus. But if you can get your entire team on the opportunity mindset bandwagon, your practice’s entire energy will shift, and growth will happen naturally as a result.

How does one adopt an opportunity mindset?

So, how does one adopt an opportunity mindset? First and foremost, it’s a decision to commit. Once you decide this is what you want for your practice and its future, YOU become the trailblazer. Leaders need to set the bar, dedicate themselves to the concept, and demonstrate what exactly an “opportunity mindset” looks like.  

To do this, your team needs to see YOU proactively:

The entire team needs to engage in this behavior for the culture to shift. Yes, you read that correctly: EVERYONE. No one is exempt. If you are not focusing on it and would like to make it a priority or would like support for the processes you currently have in place, your Account Manager and Consult YHN’s experienced trainers would be more than happy to help. However, the buck cannot be passed. The only way for a practice to adopt an opportunity mindset is for its leaders to set an example, make opportunity creation a priority, hold their staff accountable, and follow up. Once you accomplish those items, the magic will start to happen!

Why should my practice adopt an opportunity mindset?

Now more than ever it’s essential for practice owners to adopt this mentality, especially because many are trying to make up for lost time and revenue as a result of the pandemic. It’s one of the core fundamentals of growing a business. Best of all, it doesn’t cost anything and is risk-free—you have far more to gain than lose by making a simple adjustment to your way of thinking.

Every Consult Account Manager is an expert in creating an opportunity mindset, whether it’s in a practice, Ear, Nose, and Throat clinic, hospital, or university. It’s what we do every day—just ask any of our thousands of engaged Associates. It’s also only one of many different areas where we can help practice owners grow their top-line revenue and bottom-line profit.

To learn new strategies on how to be more PROACTIVE and DRIVE more patients through your door, reach out to your Account Manager, join one of our weekly teletrainings, or contact Consult YHN today!

About the Author

Kate Thomas is an Assistant Account Manager and has been with Consult YHN since 2009. Before moving into her current role in 2016, she worked in the company’s Recruiting Department. Kate supports the East division and their accounts through front office and physician marketing trainings, community outreach support, and anything else needed to help practice owners achieve their professional goals. When not working, Kate enjoys gardening, yoga, meditation, running, hiking, cooking, and anything else that allows her to use her creative mind. Whatever she’s doing, it almost always involves her husband and three beautiful children.

Seven Reasons to Call Your Patients

Telemarketing can be an unsettling word for some. It evokes the days of yesteryear when family dinners were interrupted by phone calls and last names were mispronounced beyond recognition.

Forget what you thought you knew about telemarketing. In fact, forget the word ‘telemarketing’ entirely. At Consult YHN, we’ve turned outbound dialing into a service essential to the success of your hearing healthcare practice – Your Patient Contact Center (YPCC).

Through YPCC, our Associates have access to a highly-trained, professionally-managed workforce committed to patient communications and the success of the practice. YPCC’s patient contact specialists act as an extension of your practice, devoted to expanding your reach, securing appointments, and driving new and existing patients through your door.

Retaining current patients while effectively acquiring new ones should be an ongoing priority for every practice. Considering that 45 percent of patients will purchase their next set of hearing aids from a different practice – reinforces the importance of consistent patient outreach and follow-up.

Calling patients, whether it’s your staff or through our YPCC call center, is a beneficial process to implement in your practice for the following reasons:

1. Revenue-driving activity

On average, YPCC books 0.5 appointments per hour, and practices that use their service realize a net gain of 8-10 units per 40 hours of calling. At their competitive rates, your practice could pay less than $100 to book a qualified patient on your schedule. Through our Consult Database Program, 75% of appointments booked are through the YPCC efforts – with the average program yielding $11,400 in total revenue.

2. Keep consistent touchpoints with your patients

YPCC has developed carefully crafted scripts for each segment of your database. This ensures that the patient contact specialists are speaking directly to each patients’ individual hearing health journey.

3. Alignment with marketing activities

Sending just a letter or postcard to your database doesn’t cut it anymore. Making phone calls behind each of your marketing activities – and with consistent messaging – will better convert your warm leads into appointments. Multiple touchpoints help keep your brand top of mind or maintain “stickiness” in the minds of your patients. Additionally, a follow-up call behind a database mailer removes the work by the patient to act on a marketing call-to-action.

4. Outbound and inbound options

In addition to making outbound dials, YPCC also offers inbound options to help with call overflow or after-hours and weekend calls. This ensures your practice makes the most of every call and reinforces your commitment to excellent customer service.

5. Database cleanup

The health of your database will have a significant impact on patient retention. If you haven’t recently scrubbed your database for patients who have moved or passed away, then any other outreach to those patients is precious marketing dollars wasted.

6. Seamless patient experience

With full access to your practice management software, YPCC’s patient contact specialists schedule appointments on the spot.

7. Time-saving

Employing someone else to call patients on behalf of your practice puts more time back on your schedule so that you can focus on what you do best: helping more people hear well again!

The truth is patient contact centers have become a staple in the healthcare industry. Whether you are a small private practice or part of a hospital network, utilizing a contact center is a cost-effective way to retain patients and fill your schedule with appointments.

Click here to learn more about Your Patient Contact Center or talk to your Account Manager today to get started!

About the Author

Julia Shreckengast joined Consult YHN in 2015 and serves as Marketing Account Executive, providing support to Associates by managing creative projects and developing/executing marketing plans. Prior to joining Consult YHN, she helped promote the city of New Orleans as a member of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation. Julia graduated Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Tulane University.