Audiologist Quality

#1

How do you tell a good one from a bad one?

George

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#2

Honestly only time will tell

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#3

You might try looking for customer reviews online, but that sort of thing can be based on individual perspective. Maybe consider what is important for you and see if they meet those needs. So far I have been very fortunate in that area.

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#4
  1. Good listening skills. Does the Audiologist really listen to the questions you ask and the answers you provide?
  2. Understanding. Do they really understand the difficulty of hearing loss, at least as well as someone without hearing loss can understand?
  3. Well-informed. How well do they know the devices they are selling and servicing?

My first Audiologist was beyond excellent in the first two, so I let the last one slide. We learned the Starkey’s together (they were recommended by a colleague who went on emergency medical leave between prescribing and delivery). She has since retired and I am very fortunate to now have an Audiologist who scores very high in all three of the areas important to me.

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#5

I think the key points are that they do a full hearing exam, not just a hearing screening test. it will include a questionnaire, a tone threshold test, bone conduction, speech in noise recognition, and visual exam. My thoughts are that it should take a minimum of 1.5 hours to do a thorough first time exam.

On the second appointment for fitting it should take another 1.5 hours, and include a discussion on the type of fitting prescription formula to be used and why. After they are programmed they need to do a REM or real ear measurement test. This is not a test of your hearing, but a test more of the hearing aids to ensure they actually produce the computer predicted sound levels in your specific ears. This is done by inserting microphones in between the HA and the ear drum to measure sound levels in the ear canal. Measurement is just the first step. Then they need to be adjusted to produce the required sound levels.

A minimum of one further appointment is needs to make finer adjustments and to address any issues you may be having.

I think in summary what a good audiologist or technician will provide is the equipment, knowledge, time, attention to detail, and your requirements to get a good fitting.

These are only the key points. Here is a good checklist of what you should expect from the full process.

HA Purchasing Checklist

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#6

While I agree with you on what should be done, I disagree on the amount of time it should take. My two audiologists have been able to accomplish what you describe in two 45- to 60-minute visits, far shorter than your preferred two 90-minute visits. Quality over quantity.

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#7

What do they cut out to save time? My two appointments were for 60 minutes each and I found them both quite rushed. Both went over the allotted time by 15 minutes or so.

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#8

I think it depends on the Audi and how organized they are. I have never had or needed to spend more than 30 to 45 minutes with my Audi at the VA to get things done that needed to be done. I go in to his office for my appointment and my records are already up on the computer and all he has to do is connect my aids and make the needed changes.
But I go in with notes on what I need done and we get to work. I know that my Audi is extremely busy and has appointments scheduled either ever 30 minutes or ever hour depending on if it is a hearing test or not.
My new aids were preprogrammed when I got to the office and just had to do the REM and decide on any extra programs or adjustments.

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#9

I think a desirable for me attribute would be to have an audiologist or technician that has a similar hearing loss to me. They have all of these high tech instruments to measure all kinds of things, but someone that does not have hearing loss does not know what it sounds like with and without hearing aids. Only a person with hearing loss knows what it sounds like.

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#10

We are working on something! Dr Cliff is building a vetting program and we’re going to start marking his vetted providers in our new provider directory, which will be launched soon. Should come together by the end of this year.

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#11

Or the fact that I go to the VA clinics and most of the ones going there have similar hearing issues as I do, and I have found a good number of the Audis do wear hearing aids too. My new Audi here doesn’t wear hearing aids but he has worked a lot with Veterans with the same hearing issues as I have.

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#12

I can think of nothing that my Audiologist “cut out.” Maybe she and I are more efficient.

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#13

I was trying to think back to my two appointments. I would say the first one when she did the hearing assessment was pretty efficient. All of the tests just seem to take a lot of time. When she said that I could probably benefit from hearing aids, I asked her if the Kirkland Signature 8.0 ones were suitable for my loss, and she said yes. I then said OK, lets go with them. That was it, with no discussion about other models etc. There was some paperwork she had to do to order them, and some other paperwork for a claim to our health care system. She indicated I may have to use custom molds instead of sleeves so spent some time preparing an additional cost estimate for that. She did have some wireless connection issues with the test for your eardrum perforation, so that may have eaten up 3-4 minutes. Overall at 75 minutes or so, I found it rushed.

The second fitting appointment was equally rushed. We probably had a 5 minute discussion on the fitting formula to be used, but that was about it for out of the ordinary stuff. I suspect most do not even ask about that. I had downloaded the Connexx 8.5 software and was fully aware of what the options for setup were. I came in with my list of programs printed out, and the few setup changes of each program. She just worked from my list and did it all as requested. I got the feeling she would not have offered to set up any programs other than the default Automatic one, if I had not asked for it. She went with the first click sleeves that she tried and there was no wasted time there. She did spend some time showing me how to change the batteries, sleeves, and replace the wax guard. I guess some of the stuff she did would be for a new user only.

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#14

Vet them how??
Customer satisfaction?
Best pricing?
Number of brands carried?
WISH I could think of a really good way to compare audiologists!!!

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#15

I am now on my second audiologist. My first was associated with the ENT that told me that I had SSD or single sided deafness. I felt that she provided poor fittings for the OPN 1 (2 times) and Sigma Pure aids that they let me trial. The Sigma was setup as a CROS and I hated it, I do have hearing in both ears. The first fitting of the OPNs was with no extra programs and they made me sick when I went to a meeting with a lot of voices. I then went and found another audiologist who provided another hearing test and told me that I only needed an aid in one ear not both as the first audiologist was fitting me for. Saving me a lot of money. She asked a lot of questions about life style and then recommended the Quattro 9 in the left ear only. I really liked the Quattro but at the second visit, she let me trial the Phonak Marvel in the left ear only. The sound quality of the Marvel is the best yet. Experience with the first audiologist was not so good but the experience with the second so far much better and the costs are about the same. There are great audiologists out there.

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#16

Is it possible to find an audiologist who just does exams but does not sell hearing aids?

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#17

I might be an outlier with my opinion, but I don’t know why I would want an audiologist to just give me an exam and not hearing aids. With my current audiologist, I expect to establish a yearslong relationship with her, just as I had a yearslong relationship with my previous audiologist before her retirement.

To me, asking an audiologist to just give me an exam without fitting me for hearing aids is like visiting one auto mechanic to determine if I need an oil change and then considering my options for changing the oil.

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#18

From Dr. Cliff:

  1. Are they licensed? - All states require a license for hearing care providers, if you marked no on this item, find another provider.

  2. Do they perform Real Ear Measurement? - REMs are the only way to ensure your hearing aids are programmed correctly. Don’t perform REMs, go elsewhere. REM VIDEO: REM: https://youtu.be/cHR0Oa6I-wY

  3. Do they offer at least 2 different hearing aid brands? - There is no single brand that is perfect for everyone. Make sure they have at least 2 brands to choose from.

  4. Did they spend more than 30 minutes with you at your first visit? - Quality hearing care takes time. If they rush your first visit, how can you expect them to take the time necessary to maximize your treatment?

  5. Do they provide a comprehensive hearing aid fitting? - BEWARE of “FREE Demos”. A comprehensive fitting is more than just hitting the auto-program button and asking “how does that sound?” Hearing Aid fittings should be highly technical and take a good amount of time. FITTING VIDEO: https://youtu.be/Yd97SGiuwvI

  6. Did they recommend a treatment plan? - Hearing loss treatment is a process. You should have a COMPLETE understanding of your hearing loss and the plan to treat it. If you feel that they are just selling you hearing aids, then you are in the wrong place.

  7. Do they pre-schedule follow-up care? - Time Flies! Good hearing care providers stay on top of issues before they become problems. Your follow-up care should always be pre-scheduled every 3 to 6 months.

  8. Will you see the same provider each time? - Continuity of car is important. If you are passed off to different providers or technicians each time you come in for care, your treatment will suffer.

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#19

My Audi gave me the test & went over the results with me. There was no hard sell about HA’s involved. It was completely up to me to decide if and when I wanted to pursue HA’s.

I went home & did some research (Thank you Dr.Cliff) and then made an appointment with her to go over the options that she offered in HA’s.

She presented HA’s from 3 different manufacturers (Phonak, Opticon and one other) and the various models. She actually gave me her opinion about the pro’s and con’s of each one.

I decided on the Phonak Marvel’s.

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#20

My input is not exactly what you asked, but I think it is getting to your underlying concern. Costco may use an audiologist or a certified technician, but they do not work on commission. That takes a lot of the pressure out of the HA pitch part. My Costco said that they didn’t mind if I went to an audiologist first and then came to Costco for the HA’s. But, they did point out that they will not dispense HA’s based on somebody else’s testing. They insist on repeating the testing, at no cost, before doing the fitting.

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