Hearing Healthcare and the Internet
n this day and age the internet is used to do many things and research many topics. The internet is great and it has enabled a great deal of advancement, but in some ways the internet has had negative impacts. The recent state farm commercial featuring someone claiming she learned something on the internet and that “they cannot put anything on there that is not true” visits this point quite comically (watch here : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmx4twCK3_I)
Surely everyone realizes that when it comes to healthcare or hearing healthcare in this instance, the best chance for successful treatment comes when you learn and seek treatment from an experienced, licensed, and educated individual. Most people would not try to go on the internet to diagnose and treat the flu or fit a pair of dentures so then why would anyone try to treat a hearing loss via the internet? The confusion comes because most people are not educated on how to successfully treat a hearing loss, and why should they be? That is why we have professions such as ours which need medical licenses, certifications, and continuing education to continue providing services.
Now there are numerous companies selling hearing aids online for low prices which would lead some to believe that they can treat a hearing loss by purchasing hearing aids online. While purchasing hearing aids online (and fitting them yourself) may work for some, the vast majority of people would benefit greatly from seeing a professional in person and having devices that are properly fit and adjusted. Although hearing aids are the device used to provide the sound that a patient needs, much more goes into making a complete hearing solution work for someone’s unique hearing loss, preferences, physical limitations, overall perception of sound, etc…
The dangers of trusting your hearing healthcare can be many, but perhaps one of the most frequent issues we see is the failed first fit. Imagine you have a hearing loss (confirmed of course via testing by a licensed professional) and you have finally decided to move forward with hearing aids. Since hearing aids purchased online are less expensive you decide to go that route. You order the hearing aids (which you have selected, not a professional) and they arrive pre-programmed and ready to go! You put them in your ears and wow, you can hear better instantly but… they whistle frequently and loud sounds are unbearable. After attempting to wear them for a day you notice that wearing them is more hindrance than help. You send them back to the company for an “adjustment” but they come back much the same and they still whistle (since there is no way to adjust the fit via mail).
Now you are left with hearing aids that do not provide any measurable benefit and get returned for credit or get tossed in the drawer. Many times this type of situation causes a first time user to give up on trying them again because why would they spend even more money for the same outcome? That is just our point, the outcome could have been wildly different with the right devices and the right professional to fit and adjust them. Unfortunately this problem does not only occur with internet sales but with the traditional method of hearing healthcare as well.
Perhaps our industry has caused some of this confusion by selling “hearing aids” for so long when what we should be emphasizing is that we provide complete hearing solutions, not just a device which can be purchased from the lowest priced source. If that truly was possible, I would not be writing this blog today.
Of course the internet is not all bad, after all you are reading this and other helpful information that will help your or a loved one make an informed decision about treating hearing loss.