Hearing aid satisfaction--Just thought I'd stir things up :>)


#1

We tend to obsess on the finer points of hearing aids here, but if you look at real world survey results, there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of difference on how satisfied people are with different hearing aids. If you look at Hearing Trackers survey results for different hearing aids and look at the 3 models with the most survey results, which are Oticon Opn, Kirkland KS7 and Widex Beyond, they all end up with very similar ratings. 79 for the KS7 and 78 for the Oticon and Widex. Consumer Reports hearing aid brand survey showed no real leaders either.

Something I’ve noticed about these surveys is that ratings go down as more people survey a hearing aid. As a result, there are many higher rated hearing aids, but they reflect a lot fewer people’s opinion.

I don’t know what the “true” takeaway from this is, and perhaps there is none. Assorted thoughts from me. How satisfied you are with your hearing aids may have more to do with you then the hearing aids. A lot of people who do reviews have a very poor understanding of what they’re reviewing. If money is limited, don’t look at expensive hearing aids. As long as you don’t develop gadget envy, you can probably be pretty satisfied with less expensive ones


#2

I agree that many here obsess and make things seem dramatically different. The fact is that most of the success can revolve around how they are fitted. There is a much broader quality issue with fitters than there is with product.

Brands do all differ but only to a degree. All have a view of what is best and patients are a bigger variable than the difference where user preferences are arrived at in a subjective manner.

We also don’t emphasize the difference that each of our losses bring to the table. That’s almost impossible even with audiogram listed.

Clinics can typically fit those with a typical loss to just about any aid successfully. But there are many losses that take the fitter beyond what the first fit software provides. We’re fortunate to have some superior fitters here and they have contributed greatly. I just wonder how much our views expressed here frustrate them. I know they have corrected views in the past and that includes mine.

When I first arrived here we had a member (Doubledown) who was outspoken. The only aid to buy was the newest Siemens(Signia) and he spoke about it going above the normal range and with more channels. He sold a lot of them until wiser fitters confronted him. He had been so sure of himself and left angry. He had drunk the PR Kool-aid which makes every aid brand the best and was proven wrong by a knowledgeable fitter here who just got tired of the overhype.

While much above seems negative, this forum does help users. The general info is quite good. Learning how the industry operates is important. Which is the best for all isn’t. Knowing how to select your fitter is. Knowing what you should not just accept but demand from the clinic is.


#3

I’d agree that fitter can have a great deal to do with satisfaction. When I said satisfaction may have more to do with oneself, I meant both personality and hearing loss. If you have an easy to fit loss and a cup is half full personality, you can likely be happy with most anything. A challenging loss and a cup is half empty personality (which the challenging loss may contribute to) and you’re unlikely to be fully satisfied by anything


#4

Indeed. Further, your brain can get trained to expect a certain sound. When I first switched to Widex (due to their having the first digital CIC) coming from another brand it took me some getting used to. Now other brands sound “weird” to me. So I would naturally expect users to love what they are used to, and denigrate what they are not used to.


#5

I wonder that it’s a grudging, dang it all to heck, sure, fine, alright already…I’ll get hearing aids. Then the sticker shock. Then the well sure yeah ok I can hear stuff but dang…them’s’re expensive doodads just to hear birds chirping and a quieter tv for the spouse.
The shop you went to to get tested isn’t going to tell you about PSAP’s. No sirree. They want to extract as much out of you as possible because capitalism. So too with the second opinion shop. They want to make you hurt for your hearing. That and they got a kid to put through college.
Then afterwards if you’re so inclined you might even go about looking at things and discover PSAP’s and wonder if maybe just maybe they might’ve worked for you from the start thinking well I’m not THAT deaf but you’re already invested in the fancy full-on hearing aids and really… do you get what you pay for and all that.
Sigh.


#6

I think we all do different things in our head. Other possibilities: I paid so much for these–I better like them and convince oneself how great they are. If you think you got a good deal, convince yourself how much like them and what a good value they are (my favorite). Heck, some studies have used placebo hearing aids and a certain percentage of people were happy with them.


#7

The things which help with satisfaction are really the same with each aid:

  • Are they comfortable to wear? So much that you can forget they are there?
  • Do they solve your individual hearing problems? These are both the same and different for each person but big issues are of course speech and speech in noise - ie. communicating.
  • Are they easy to use - fuss free?
  • Are they affordable? Are they a reasonable price you would expect to pay for the technology involved?
  • Are the services you require local and accessible? Considerate/interested/capable?
  • These days I would also add do they have good connectivity to the devices you use in everyday life?

I think the more of these questions with yes as the answer, the more satisfied even the fussiest person will be. Some will be more difficult to achieve this due to physical or other factors. These too are sometimes predictable.

I think for new users it is very important to explain the process and expectations and limitations of hearing aids.


#9

I see most surveys asking about satisfaction with hearing aid brands and models. Given how it’s been said over and over how important a fitter is, there’s not a whole lot of survey I see that asks about the quality and satisfaction of the hearing professionals. It’d be interesting to see more of such surveys. For sure whatever threads on this forum that touch that topic have been interesting and elicited a lot of interesting responses.

And speaking of surveys, I’ve found that most surveys solicited by students from university projects on this forum are short sighted and lame. Seems like they just care to have one to check a box that they completed it for their project, but not something they truly care about to give it a lot of forethoughts.


#10

Honestly, a good audiologist will give you the options you should have based on your hearing loss. Everyone is going to hear best in top tier technology, but if you spend all your time at home in a quiet environment and don’t avoid social activities, they won’t push you to get the most expensive. A REALLY GOOD audiologist won’t push you into making any kind of decision you don’t feel comfortable with, but they will highlight the benefits based on lifestyle, budget and hearing loss and make recommendations. A GOOD audiologist doesn’t want to force you into anything to make a few bucks. The concern of people in this field is to help you maintain a high quality of life. You have come to them for a reason. You aren’t hearing in situations you would like to. Some people isolate themselves, avoid activities they enjoy, face depression, cognitive decline, risk of falling, and loss of income. We deeply care about our patients and their well being and if it is best for our patients to have top of the line hearing aids of course that is what we recommend. PSAPS really don’t help much unless you can’t afford the lowest cost hearing aids and you can’t hear your doctors. It might even be with looking into a state run program that provides one free mid grade hearing aid. I’m sure they differ by state but it’s worth looking into if hearing aids seem out of your budget.


#12

@rosebridgham: Thanks for your thoughtful reply to my cynical sweeping generalizations. Of course there would be “good” audiologists out there that would only be looking out for the best for the client in front of them. Wouldn’t it be nice if all purveyors of hearing aids were so inclined? But isn’t that all sounding like the ol’ no true scotsman? ie but the GOOD audiologist etc.

I’ll continue to say that the motivation of even being in front of an audiologist is a grudging self-acceptance of what you have going on … less able hearing. How can I hear better? Oh…I have to spend a small fortune? Crap!

In my “state” there are no freebies except for maybe the very poor of which I am fortunate to not be a member so I don’t even know what might be available.

But that doesn’t mean I have all the money in the world to spend on the solid gold, diamond encrusted, Bugatti of hearing aids.

Maybe if vendors offered choices and pros and cons of those choices STARTING WITH THE LEAST EXPENSIVE to minimize the sticker shock then maybe it could all be swallowed a little better. Like here’s a PSAP…it can do this but it can’t do that. Moving on to an older model aid that might only be a little more than the first device we looked at and it can do this that the PSAP can’t. etc

Then I have a little problem with a company store. We sell Phonak’s. You want Phonak? Come on in. Or worse…well with all the assessments… in our professional opinion you need this Phonak model. Oh and look we have stock.

I guess I’m just really cynical about the whole business. Or maybe I have some of those symptoms you mention. Who knows?

But hey…to the topic…my $2000CDN KS7’s allow me to hear better. Not perfect. Nothing will. But better.


#13

And aren’t some people actually happier with a simpler (less processing) hearing aid?
Also, regarding the inexpensive hearing aids you speak of–are these usually an ITE, or are they available in other styles too? I’ve only seen inexpensive ITEs.


#14

Before I started to buy hearing aids off eBay and started to self program them, I bought a pair of Phonak Naida S III UPs in 2011. My audiologist did a fab job at programming them. I heard very well in noise.


#15

Not necessarily. I would say people are happier with a simpler aid to operate. But it can do very heavily processing action. A prime example of this is the OPN. You only need to be in one program for everything. Just really put it on and forget you’re wearing it and it works in any environment for you.


#16

Hm. People with only a light hearing loss will wear a HA only if they are really satisfied with their HAs. If not then they don’t use them. Either these people don’t participate in any survey or they downvote these HAs. I think most of them don’t even try more than 2 brands, they think the time is not worth for testing too much.

On the other hand people with severe hearing loss (as I have) know how difficult it is to find a suitable HA (for the patient and for the audiologist). If I have found a HA that fits for me then I am really glad to have them. In this case I would vote for the highest rating. And the more severe your hearing loss is the more expensive the needed HAs are and the less voters you have in a survey. If you have expensive HAs then you would like to see your HAs to be one the top voted ones. This is not only the case when buying hearing aids but also with other things, let’s say your brand new fullfeatured TV.

And the success during the fittings is very important for the success of a HA. My audiologist does a great job, he does the neccessary changes as I tell him what I like or don’t like to hear. BUT: He is not able to hear what I hear. I am not always able to articulate my needs. For this I already did selffitting of my last pairs and I will do it this time again (actually I am trying Phonak). At home I can adjust the devices in any given situation, at the audioligst I only can give hints and (only) in his store the changes sound good. (This is by the way the same problem with me at two different audiologists).
Long story in short: Your personal satisfaction for a specific hearing aid is highly dependent on fortuna.


#17

All I know is my Resounds are out for repair and I cannot wait to get them back!!


#18

There’s one guy on the forum who is happier with his PSAP than anything else he’s tried.


#20

The Audiologist told me I have profound high frequency loss. I know it is pretty bad because of the things others hear that I can’t. I went to one of the stores that sell hearing aids and paid a huge amount for a pair of aids. Having paid so much, my level of expectation was very high. Had they been cheap, my expectations would have been much lower. So, yes, there is a natural bias there. If I pay more, I expect to get more. Unfortunately, they didn’t really help my hearing in a meaningful way and I returned them. Time passed and I decided to try some used aids off eBay. Managed to buy a pair of Phonaks at about 10% of retail price. Still not cheap. I also acquired the programming device and software and have programmed them multiple times myself. I still don’t hear any better than before. Oh, I hear more, just not better. I read posts where people bought aids and now they hear wonderfully. Oh, I wish that was me. I have about come to the conclusion that my particular hearing issue cannot be helped. And, don’t tell me I just need to find a good Audiologist. I simply cannot afford to go that route and pay the prices involved in that. The Audiologist I went to did say she didn’t see much hope of me regaining anything even close to normal hearing. So, in regard to the above discussion, an individual’s attitudes and prejudices play a major role in satisfaction with hearing aids. It isn’t just about amplifying certain frequencies certain amounts, or even digital processing. Our brain can help, or hinder the process considerably.


#21

In my opinion there is no difference between an audiologist and a trained and licensed clinician in the programming of hearing aids. The key is experience, the software does most of the programming by default.


#22

This is an interesting thread. More providers are speaking about things than in other threads. I think we still aren’t listening fully about what has been said.


#23

I’ve read, with interest, the views expressed by both AUDs/clinicians and Users/clients. One thing remains obvious: HA’s are manufactured by several firms and have high to lower price tags; Users come in all ages and need-ranges, and with varying pocketbooks; and satisfaction is more likely to be less than 100% or the users wouldn’t be posting. My first concern, when I was switched to Hearing Tracker and did the initial appraisal, was that my AUD here was not in your database—but then I live in Winnipeg, Canada—however, I have to assume the right to use AUD signifies meeting some level of testing, so I’m satisfied she’s qualified.
I agree that I have a hearing deficiency (more so in my left ear) and have lived with it for many years—initially with a HA for my left ear (about 25 years ago) and currently only for my right ear. I admit that, had I not lost (while gardening) my old HA, I wouldn’t have needed to return to an AUD. As a pensioner, I have no financial offset and just Canada Pension to live on; so I dare not go into debt. Mostly, I sit and watch TV (with my ConnectLine/Streamer combination) and with my Oticon Alta2. Thanks to this forum, I’m planning to add a ConnectLine phone adapter—so I’ll be able to answer my landline with some expectation of hearing at least who’s calling—although it will likely be a recording warning of my outstanding credit debt (which is fictitious).
I would love to feel confident (not just be assured verbally and be polite and accept it) that I have wisely chosen to obey my wallet and accept the compromise. At almost 80, and about to sell my house, I’m tempted to waste/spend $$ on paired HAs that will be serve no one when I do pack it in. Do I try another AUD, simply because he/she has a different sponsor company?