When your audi offers only one HA choice -- what to do?


#1

Hi there. I am new to this forum, yet not totally new to HAs. Like many other folks, I put off dealing with my hearing loss until my partner pushed me due to my repeated “what?” “huh” “tv is too quiet” and misunderstood words in conversations that were funny in retrospect, but not funny in the moment. So about 6 or so years ago, I got the Phonak Audeo IX Yes BTE models. I began with one in my right ear and then added the left about one year later. So now I’m bionic – or something like that.

I am now up for a new set (read that as my insurance will cover most of the cost for a new set). My current setup isn’t working for me as good as I wish. I miss conversations in restaurants, with people who talk quietly or with high pitch and I miss words in general.

I went to my audiologist and had my ears tested. I was also asked multiple lifestyle questions. Based upon that, I was informed that the Oticon OPN miniRITE –T is the model for me. And, indeed, I’ve read a lot of good things about this model. The two things I’m not so happy about are that it doesn’t offer rechargeable batteries and it’s i-Phone centric (I’m an Android person). So I asked if I could compare two models and basically I was told (in a kindly manner) that this would be a pain in her butt. So that brings me to my question – what is the standard out there for comparisons? Do most of you move forward with your audi’s recommendation or trial more than one.

It seems to me that for the exorbitant amount that this unit will cost, I should have the ability to at least compare this one with another. Choosing or using only one unit, even it’s the best out there, doesn’t allow me the ability to “test” the difference in hearing. I told my audi that I wanted to do some research before I signed in and, of course, she kindly warned me about what I’d find on the internet compared to a trusted audi. And there’s truth in that, but I also am uncomfortable with her providing one unit with no other options.

Sorry for my lengthy intro – I really am disturbed by this and wonder…what do you do? What are your experiences in this? I could really use some help here. Thanks!!


#2

Find another audiologist.


#3

Depends on what’s important to you. There’s a couple of ways to lo look at your audiologist. The way you currently seem to be looking at it is that she’s not willing to work with you. Another way to look at it is that in her professional opinion, she’s convinced she can make these aids work for you and if she can’t, she’ll refund most or all of your money. If you really want rechargeable, I think she could accomodate that, although you might have to give up T-coil.
Regarding Android vs Apple. I’m an Android person too, but if streaming is really important to you, I’d go with Apple. If you insist on Android, go somewhere else and try the Phonak Marvel.


#4

I had considered that, but at this point, I’m trying to figure out what the standard of the industry is. I don’t wish to rock the boat, if the general consensus is to trust your audi and go along with their professional opinion. My first audi was in a non-profit organization and they ended up closing shop. This is the first time I’ve worked with this audi and she seems very knowledgeable, yet I feel like I should have more options.

On top of that, I’m reading about the new Phonak Marvel and I would to trial that model AND the Oticon OPN.


#5

MDB. Odd that you mention the Phonak Marvel. :slight_smile:

My current HAs are Phonak Audeo IX Yes.


#6

Standards? There is a tremendous amount of variety. Keep in mind that hearing aids are very hard to compare in that so much depends on how they’re set up. It would be very easy for an audiologist to shape your opinion to favor one hearing aid over another depending on how they were set up. Combine this with any change has a good chance of sounding “bad” makes comparing even more challenging. The little in interactions I’ve had with audiologist that I’ve liked, it seemed like they really hated the idea of spinning their wheels. They were willing to work very hard to get things right, but didn’t like the idea that no matter what they did, the patient still wanted to try something else.


#7

My opinion? You need to feel comfortable with your audiologist. You can always see another one for his/her opinion, and return to your current audiologist if you are given the same recommendations. I don’t know if your current audiologist is in private practice or is part of a large group, but I’d suggest trying an audiologist that is affiliated with a major medical center or medical school. They often offer more trial options and are up on the latest research and best models for your particular hearing loss. Just a thought. Wishing you luck.


#8

Did you tell her that you wanted rechargeable hearing aids that connect to your android phone?

I don’t actually know what to say about trialling multiple hearing aids. I allow my patients to do it, but I understand why others are sticky about it. Our time isn’t free and trailing multiple devices is, in many places, still only just starting to be a thing. As a result, the extra time it takes to set up multiple trials isn’t necessarily built into the pricing structure. And if it does get built into the price structure, do you just roll it across all patients so that the ones who aren’t trialing multiple devices are subsidizing the people who are? There are certainly ways to set things up very quickly and say, “here, A or B?” but most clinicians do not have all levels, styles, and manufacturers on hand as demos for everyone who walks through the door, which means they need to order in all the ones you want to try and then send the losers back (which, incidentally, will drive up the base cost of hearing aids as, AFAIK, the returns get trashed). Plus, do you want to start your patients out with a sub-optimal fit? (As an optimal fit takes more time multiplied by multiple devices, and thus costs more.) Add to that adaptation time to new sound, particularly for new users (probably most clinicians have experienced a patient saying, “Oh, whatever you just did made them sound really good, really natural!” and what you just did was literally mute the hearing aids) and so how much is the initial judgement worth? Are these trials just in the office, where listening conditions are perfect or even simulated sound scapes are unrealistic? Or are the patients walking out the door with thousands of dollars of your stock, some of which will get stolen or lost subsequently with patients coming back and yelling at you a lot and leaving bad google reviews about how much you charged them when their dog ate your tiny machine. I don’t know. There could be a lot of headaches. I live in a community of generally awesome patients and as a result we probably do more for them because we trust that stuff won’t happen, but I’ve heard some horror stories from other places.

Further, (maybe unpopular opinion) the differences between hearing aids these days, in regards to your actual HEARING, is mostly razor thin. If there were one hearing aid that was uniformly better, we’d all just be fitting that one. Often you can tweak hearing aid A very slightly and make it sound like hearing aid B. So long as my patient is in a hearing aid appropriate to support their hearing loss, I almost do not care at all what manufacturer’s hearing aid they are in. Ideally, I’d like to given them the best price and the most flexibility in case their needs change in the future.

While I’m rambling on a Friday night, let me add that I think clinician reasons for prescribing a certain hearing aid and patient reasons for wanting one can be dramatically divergent. For example, patient wants manufacturer X because they like the app. Clinician thinks manufacturer X’s product is great from a hearing perspective (though perhaps not much different from the other choices), but knows that their earmold lab has been really sucking lately and they’re going to have to do eight remakes before it is right and this will leave everyone annoyed, especially the patient. Maybe the clinician likes manufacturer Y because those guys provide spectacular customer support and they know that if the patient gets skin cancer next year and has the top half of their ear removed such that a RIC no longer works, manufacturer Y will swap out the RICs for ITCs at no charge to the patient because of extraordinary circumstances, even though they are way past their trial date. But maybe manufacturer Y’s app sucks.

I think now I’m way off topic–better stop.


#9

Tell your audiologist what you want to do. Your audiologist works for YOU, and what you want isn’t at all unreasonable. How she responds to what you want to do will also tell you a lot about her and what kind of relationship you can expect from her in the future. A good working relationship with an audiologist is important and you should trust your gut feeling about a potential audiologist. If she doesn’t like what you are asking for, find an audiologist who will accommodate you. I had to “interview” various audiologists before I settled on one who accommodated me and I felt I could trust. But regardless of who you choose, make sure that audiologist performs Real Ear Measures.


#10

Wow. Lots of things to consider; thank you all.

Neville, I did ask her about rechargeable HAs and she told me upfront that my android wouldn’t work as well with the Oticon as if I had a IPhone. Her explanation on the rechargeable batteries was to note that she bundled her pricing (although she didn’t use the term “bundle”) with services, meaning that a free quarterly cleaning would be offered and when/if I came in for the cleaning, I would be given 3 months worth of free batteries – this is offered for as long as I own the HAs. So, basically, she said this was better than rechargeable.

I also understand the premise that providing multiple brands and trialing may add to the overall cost because, understandably, an audiologist expects to be paid for their time. Got that. This office does not have demos to trial and my take is that only after I signed a contract to purchase would the model be ordered. And for a small fee, I can return it if I don’t like it. And no custom earmolds; I have open domes now, but she’s suggesting closed domes for the new set.

richnfamus1, my audiologist is single-cell, one-person operation. And I live in a small(er) town. There are audi’s affiliated with the local hospital, so 'guess I could try a second opinion there. I thought I might get better service from a audiologist in a private setting. Most of the audiologist offices here are on the smaller side. Good suggestion, though, thank you.

buckman.bob, what are Real Ear Measures (REM)? I don’t believe that was ever brought up.

Ultimately, I believe my audi wants to do her best by me, yet I am torn by the thought that I would like to trial at least one more model as a comparison. You cannot compare if you have nothing with which to compare. So maybe my new HAs sound really good, but what if something would sound so much better – or have features that worked better for me? How do you know what is “good,” without experiencing better or worse? How do I know this without some mode of comparison? Or…just let it go and trust I got the best as referred by my audiologist. She and I do not have a long-term relationship; but I have no reasons to not think well of her.

Currently, I have Phonaks. I really liked them, but according to my audi, technology has advanced significantly from 6 years ago and what is available now will be much more helpful. As it stands, the Phonaks I have are not currently providing what I need and I can only attribute that to my changes in hearing and what was previously offered compared to what is currently offered in hearing technology. My audi says has tweaked the Phonaks as far as she can. That being said, I am intrigued by the new Phonak Marvels. Some of which, frankly, is because I liked the brand. I know nothing about Oticon aside from reading about it. That’s part of the problem: reading is nothing like trialing.

Sorry for rambling.


#11

My first pair of HA’s were Phonak. When I had to switch to BTE I tried 4 different brands. Signia, Oticon, widex and Phonak. I needed one that streams to iPhone as well, Im an IOS person.
Signia I couldn’t cope with the “screeching” coming from the HA’s if I rested my head against the sofa, or put my hand near my head.
Oticon the streamer broke within my trial period and I didn’t like the “sound” I heard from them.
Widex I didn’t like the sound from them either.
So I came back to Phonak because I like the natural sound I hear from the Phonak aids.

Give the OPN a trial period (work out a returnable refundable time frame with your aud) if you don’t like them then return them. If your Aud is not prepared to let you trial them on a Returnable and refundable basis find another Audiologist. Good luck.


#12

The way I see it, you don’t necessarily need to try two different HA brands/models with the same audi. If you like this audi well enough, and as long as she’s recommending a reputable brand/model, it doesn’t hurt to invest the time/effort to trial this model with her. If you like it and it works out well for you, maybe you can just stop there. After all, why look for something else if you’re already happy with the first one.

But if you’re not happy enough with this first model and want to try something else, and this audi doesn’t offer anything else, then simply move on to somebody else that will offer you something else to try out.

It’d be about the same amount of effort to try out 2 or 3 brands/models consecutively, except that you won’t be trying them all through the same audi, but through more than one audi.

But you should do some due diligence to make sure that the one you’re trying out first meets most of your criteria. Like MDB said, if you will not consider moving to an iPhone and don’t want an intermediate streamer, then try out the Phonak Audeo Marvel first. But if you’re flexible about moving to an iPhone, or are willing to use an intermediate streamer, then you can try the other major brands/models first if you want.


#13

Real Ear Measurement, sometimes called Live Speech Mapping or something similar, is when they put a small microphone in your ear, near the eardrum, followed by the hearing aid. Everyone’s ear canal is shaped differently. The shape of your ear canal affects the sound produced. REM ensures that your hearing aids are accurately targeting your loss.
Many people here are of the opinion that the fitter is as important, if not more important, than the brand of aid. As @Neville pointed out, differences between brands can be pretty minimal. Differences between people can be huge.
I’m working with a new audi right now. He prefers Starkey. I’ve not heard many good things about Starkey, so I asked him to justify his preference. He proceeded to do so, and like your audi, he felt this was the best solution for me. BUT, he also gave me a written 45 day 100% money back guarantee. He also assured me that if I didn’t like them, we could try any other brand. I tried the Starkeys, and returned them. They were fine aids, but I didn’t care for the Bluetooth functionality (I too am an Android guy). I have an appointment on the 10th to be fitted with Phonak Marvels.
So, make sure you like and trust your audi. Don’t be afraid to go elsewhere if need be. I would like to see a little more flexibility on her part.


#14

Is your audiologist independent or “sponsored” by Oticon? After my long-time audiologist moved away I tried a few local offices that swore they could work on my Oticon’s but turned out to be offices for other brands. They tested my hearing then told me my practically new Oticon’s were crap & I really should buy their brand for their special “today-only” price. I finally landed w/a local hospital-sponsored hearing center that is truly brand agnostic.

That said, if you really want rechargeable, Android-compatible aids you’re going to have to be firm w/your audiologist or go somewhere else.

Good luck!


#15

I don’t think there is a standard. Everyone is different. I wouldn’t try two at one time. I would take your best guess, or your pro’s recommendation, and give it every chance of working. Then, if it is not working, I would try the next one. If you want Android connectivity there is the Marvel, but I use Phonak with the Com Pilot II because I have many more things to connect to than just one cell phone. I also connect to my office phone, laptops, tablets, TV, and landline phone. The Com Pilot II makes that possible. I wear it around my neck under my shirt. I connect a lapel microphone to it and connect it to my shirt, so the Com Pilot II stays under my shirt. With this I can connect to two phones at one time and take calls on whichever one rings.


#16

If she was stuck on the Opn, I can guess why she might have leaned away from the rechargeables. When the first wave of the new rechargeable push came in, many people felt the zpower rechargeables (which the opn uses) offered more flexibility because you could remove them and use regular batteries if necessary, plus the lithium ions would require a full repair charge once they were out of warranty if something went wrong, which seemed much more expensive than just buying a new battery cell. Plus, the lithium ion were chunkier and if you were a phonak person they had that godawful button. A year and some in, however, the zpower rechargables have caused all sorts of problems such that a lot of clinicians I know are becoming shy of them.

The YES to the Marvel (or most other modern hearing aids) will be a noticeable jump, yes. You’ll probably be pleased.


#17

I go to a private clinic with two AuDs. They handle five out of six of the big names. They don’t carry Resound. I can do a 30 day trial of all five if I so choose and as long as I purchase one of them there is no charge for the trial. If I don’t purchase there is a single $200 restocking charge. That is all. There is never any brand pressure to deal with. Next Wed. I am going to start a trial of the Widex Evoke. She was right up front about rarely fitting the Widex so she is having the Widex rep in to assist in the fitting. She is totally transparent. So that type of clinic is out there. I will admit that I did a lot of research and spent a good amount of time on the telephone talking to various clinics before choosing this one but it paid off.

I’ll add that I get hearing tests and adjustments as needed and batteries for three years.


#18

What kinds of problems are they causing? I ask because I ordered the Evoke with the ZPower option. I did so because it’s there and because I’m not locked into the rechargeable battery. I spend a good deal of time traveling and I’ve learned the hard way to keep batteries in the cars, in my computer case, in our cottage etc. For that reason if I don’t like the Evoke I am going to to the Marvel and I won’t do the rechargeable. I don’t want to have to carry a charger with me wherever I go.


#19

Just a lot of failure. Failure of the charger, failure of the battery doors, failure of the batteries. Never any problems using regular batteries though, so yeah you can always swap out. There’s been an update of the charger to apparently deal with some of the problems. The whole zpower system seems VERY sensitive to moisture, even with patients who I wouldn’t normally think of as patients with chronic moisture problems. I think you also need to be careful to never let the charge on the battery drop close to zero. Initially we were told 24 hours of charge, one year of battery life. Now we are being told never fail to charge it over night, 6-12 months battery life. Different manufacturers have different warranties on the batteries too, seems to range from ten months down to 30 days. As a provider, it sucks to tell a patient that they need to buy a new battery if theirs dies after 2 months. The rechargeables aren’t cheap.

That being said, I do have patients who have seen no problems at all.


#20

Thanks. Hopefully the issues have been resolved. I get batteries for the full three year warranty period at my clinic which includes rechargeables, so at least that is not a problem. And I see now that the IP68 rating doesn’t apply to the ZPower aid–at least with the Widex. I did it simply because it was there. Changing batteries has never been a problem for me so they don’t really get me anything. Dumb ass move on my part. Oh well.