Hearing Tracker - I'm Skeptical!

Not making a final judgment yet but things aren’t quite adding up here with the conversion from hearing aid forums to hearing tracker. I got the announcement by way of an “action required” email to claim my hearing tracker account. This email claims to be a “modern forum community platform” with a list of new features that we seem to have always had on the original forum. But it gets more interesting…

Turns out hearing tracker is run by an audiologist by the name of Abram Bailey. In his profile he states he’s clearly comes off as an advocate for hearing aid users. But in his linkedIn profile he appears to be something else entirely that reeks of conflict of interest. Here are the two profiles. You be the judge:

On HearingTracker:
https://www.hearingtracker.com/about

“Dr. Bailey is a leading expert on consumer technology in the audiology industry. He is a staunch advocate for patient-centered hearing care and audiological best practices, and welcomes any technological innovation that improves access to quality hearing outcomes. Dr. Bailey holds an Au.D. from Vanderbilt University Medical Center.”

On linkedIn:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/abrambailey

“Helping Audiologists Attract New Qualified Patients | CEO at Hearing Tracker, Inc”

One way to find out Mr. Abrams true motivations is if he is willing to respond himself to this thread as to his apparently conflicting motivations and whether this move from hearing aid forums was really a move or some sort of a buyout?

As I say, I’m making no judgments yet but my radar is on high alert.

Comments anyone?

I’ve viewed a bit of their site and found it balanced and not relationship based. At this point, I am unwilling to to support your premise.

There will be a change of sort. This is a for profit site and the old site wasn’t. That isn’t all bad. Our old Admin, just let it run on it own and even there some accused the site of removing certain posts.

I don’t care for the new software but have some glitches that are clouding my view. It appears overly busy that doesn’t add to the usefulness.

Well, Mr. Bailey has been known to traffic in FUD related to internet hearing aid sales; in my mind, he’s far less interested in consumers than he is in supporting the manufacturers. My evidence here is that customers of BuyHear (maybe others) appear to be FAR more satisfied with their aids/service than customers of the average brick-and-mortar store, based on BuyHear’s far lower return rates, < 10% vs 20-30%). I guess we’ll see whether he is just another industry shill or is actually interested in honest discussion.

Do you mind explaining what you mean by FUD related to internet sales, with supporting example? I’m not even sure what FUD means. Also, internet hearing aid sales are not bad for hearing aid manufacturers, so your argument does not make sense to me. Thanks.

Counter to that is the reviews of the KS6 and KS7.

Buyhear is an online clinic operation. You won’t see reviews specific to them. You may find a comment in the aid reviews – I haven’t looked. The site is reviewing aids not fitter/clinic/whatever.

All this judgement fails to be based on much. I’m willing to give anyone the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise

P.S. FUD = fear, uncertainty, doubt

Being an advocate for consumers and being an advocate for audiologists can be done at the same time. As a doctor of audiology, of course I believe in the gold standard of audiological care when it comes to recommending and fitting hearing aids. In fact, most studies of OTC hearing aid benefits suggest that OTCs (select models) and traditional hearing aids are on par with each other for mild-to-moderate when both types of devices are fit using best practice audiology, like real-ear measurements etc… I’m not opposed to self-fitting hearing aids that can achieve the same outcomes as an audiologist, but at this stage in the game there is no such thing… So supporting audiologists and consumers just so happens to be a convenient win-win situation, not a conflict of interest.

By the way, if you’re concerned about bias in our platform, please see:

2 Likes

Thanks Ken. Appreciate your responses. We are in fact not concerned about BuyHear. At one point we reported on a story about BuyHear, but do to a cease and desist decided to take it down. We did not express opinion in that piece… but merely reported on some information that had surfaced.

Thank you for the reply and your openness about working both sides. Although I may be inherently skeptical about potential conflicts of interest I am also both realistic and a capitalist and I think as long as you are committed to not misleading anyone then it should work fine and can be a win/win for everyone. I hope everyone the best and look forward to what you bring to the table.

I felt the same way at first, but I have really grown to love the discourse platform through my testing and getting this migration ready. I hope you come to appreciate it over time. Adjustment may be necessary for many of the legacy users.

Appreciate it. Hearing Tracker was started to bring more transparency to the industry for consumers… Our coverage has not always been welcomed. For example, we exposed all the connections between hearing aid companies, and also report on lots of new non-traditional solutions like apps and psaps. See Soundhawk Review for Hearing Loss - Expert Analysis for an example of my work.

I share your concern. I should add that the fact that an audiologist is overseeing the forum provides no assurance whatsoever to me. More like cause for concern. Until sales is separated from audiology hearing aid users are best served by maintaining a healthy skepticism of the motivations of any audiologist/salesman. You can never be sure which hat is being worn at any given time. Even in the case when an audiologist is not personally dispensing aids they nonetheless are likely to support a status quo and dependency which has hearing aids purchasers paying upward $6,000 for a pair of aids. The best value provided by the former forum was the information shared by hearing aid users.

You clearly didn’t read my responses above. Also, you do realize that a hearing professional oversaw the forum since its inception, right? Osamu and I are friends, and he has entrusted me to keep the unbiased baton alive. Did you see his announcement?

Dr. Bailey, what do you think about COSTCO’s audiology services and prices? Thanks,

I figure if I’m that worried about bias or whatever I’m free to find some other forum or start my own. I also figure anyone else here is equally free to do so.

BuyHear uses licensed professionals for initial fit and adjustments; the initial fit is based on an audiogram provided by an audiologist (and, of course, the most difficult cases are still referred back to an appropriate audiologist/ENT). What’s more, BuyHear is rolling out face-to-face (audio/video/text) conferencing in conjunction with “first fit” and adjustments. It’s hard to see a big difference, frankly, between brick-and-mortar and this kind of approach. Even medicine is moving in this direction (when I was in hospital last year, the hospitalist was 60 miles away using bluetooth-connected devices and an audio/video chat setup); if it works for hospital stays, surely it’s fine for most hearing aid situations.

Yes, there are cut-and-run online outlets, and I think it’s reasonable to be highly skeptical of those. But BuyHear (and perhaps others) aren’t in that category, and I think it’s unreasonable to tar them all with the same brush.

@chatteremail

Just who here has trashed Buyhear to require your defense of them?

3 Likes

I haven’t personally vetted any Costco’s, but what I have heard is that the service quality can be variable, and that some real ear measurement machines are dusty when they are serviced for calibration. Now, I doubt this is a pervasive issue, as there are plenty of positive reports out there, but my advice to anyone considering Costco is to see who is employed in your local Costco’s hearing center, and attempt to vet their educational background, experience level, and service quality. Also, consider that your wait time at Costco may be high in some areas for fittings and follow-ups… This is a bigger issue for some people than others. Regarding price, what’s not to like?

If by “here”, you mean the new forum, then nobody (which is great). But HearingTracker did repost the misleading article about Resound/BuyHear, so I am concerned that this represents an attitude that isn’t entirely consumer-focused. I will be pleased to be wrong about this!

By the way, I have nothing whatever against audiologists; I just dislike the holier-than-thou attitude of some of them (not all, and maybe not most) who appear to care more about their profits than their customers.

Very helpful answer, thanks!