Who or what is a preferred provider (and why should I care)?


#1

And what does that mean? And how do you find them?

I’m interested in both the Oticon OPN and the Phonak Marvel. And I’m looking for “experienced” audiologists near me who are recommended by the manufacturer. I’m hoping that, if recomm’d by the producer, those units/persons/businesses will have had experience working with that brand. Seems sensible, right?

Looking on the Phonak provider page, many hearing centers are noted, but none in my location have the silver star icon by their listing. My current audiologist says that the “silver star means they well trained in Phonak whereas no silver star means that practice is “friendly to Phonak” but doesn’t work with this product often.”

On the other hand, Oticon’s online provider search engine brings up every hearing center around me, with no denotation of one being more trained or recommended than another.

Can anyone shed light on this? How might I find out who has experience and who doesn’t?


#2

You do your homework on the products. Read the documents available on the professional sites (there is usually a link in the menu on the consumer site). Peruse this forum and read the experiential evidence of the people posting here. If you can get an audiology text and become familiar with the ear and the problems causing hearing losses. Read about “best fitting practices” so you know what is involved and then make phone calls to the clinics in your area. Some will stand out and some will make you wonder how they stay in business. You’ll narrow your choices down to the point where you’ll probably do well with whichever you choose. This assumes you live in an area where there are multiple choices. If there aren’t then you will at least know what is required to be fit properly and be immune to smoke and mirrors B.S.


#3

When you call the clinic, don’t ask “are you familiar with Phonak/Oticon pruducts” because everyone will say yes. Ask which manufacturers they fit the most.


#4

I would suspect that the silver stars have more to do with financial arrangements than with experience. If you call a provider they will tell you they can fit anything, but they should also be able to tell you what their preferred brand is.

I personally don’t care a whole lot how much experience they have with a particular brand. When I asked my audi about Resound, he said he would fit any brand I wanted, but wanted to be honest in that he had never fit Resound before. He said “If you can be patient with me, I’ll figure it out.” I like that. He’s honest, and he’s willing to do the work. Usually, the fitters have almost instant access to phone support from the manufacturers as well.

What do I look for in a provider? A lot of it is gut feeling. Do I think they know what they are doing? Do I feel I can trust them? Are they honest? I always take my wife along, because she has a very keen sixth sense about people. Google reviews can be somewhat helpful too.


#5

And they might respond we fit everybody. But there ARE honest, and capable audiologists out there whose first concern is the patient. You might have to look a bit they’re there. Caveat Emptor.


#6

BlueCrab, my take on this is a bit different. I think it is more important to use an audi who has done dozens or hundreds of fittings with the brand you’re considering. IMHO specialization is important in HA fitting. There are a lot of possible adjustments to be made in the HA manufactuer’s software. You want someone who has already gone through the trial and error process many times to see how various software tweaks operate in the real world.


#7

Yea, I can understand that. To each his own.

Perhaps I base my opinion on my own professional experience. I’ve dabbled in some Technical Writing throughout my career. By far the dominant word processor is MS Word, and I’m pretty proficient in it. But sometimes the customer needs the document in FrameMaker, WordPerfect, Pagemaker, RoboHelp, or some other obscure software format. Many technical writers know that when the customer asks “can you provide my document in XXX format?”, the answer is always “yes.” Then you go figure it out. I know I can create a clean, well formatted, professional looking document in Framemaker, but I also know it will take me twice as long as it would in MS Word because I have to figure out which button to click to make it bold and which button to click to indent. In the end I know I will succeed because I know the core concepts of what makes a good document, and I know the software can get me there.

A good fitter should know the core concepts of what it takes to get you the best hearing you can get, and they should know that the software can get them there. It’s just a matter of persistence until you find the right button. I see those qualities in my audi, and that’s what made me decide to work with him.

Now, we’ll see if I’m right when he fits my Marvels on the 10th! :thinking:


#8

This is my feeling. All manufacturer software is basically similar, they just hide the options in different places and call them different things. If you have basic computer skills and some familiarity with a particular manufacturer’s lingo, clicking through and finding when you need is pretty easy.

Except finding the Resound feedback management. No one who is unfamiliar with their software will ever find it without calling in.:laughing:


#9

LOL!!! Ain’t that the truth? And here I thought it was just us folks wearing the aids who were led on Easter egg hunts to find the optimum features on our aids. Just about every time I visit my aud-guy, I ask about a feature I’ve learned about here on this board. Then HE has to go find the Easter egg … hippity HOP!

My own 2-cents’ worth about finding the best audiologist to fit a precise make or model is that it’s trial and error. Not all areas have the best audiologists. One may be luckier in a large city, but then the options would be almost overwhelming to sort through.

The best advice already given above is to do your homework, ask friends/family for referrals, read about the features of the aids you’re interested in, and then go with your GUT instinct. Some folks have had luck at Costco, but I am fortunate to have found an aud-guy I’ve seen for almost 14 years now. He knows my issues and goals. Even so, he has to occasionally get on the phone with Tech Support to get the answers I’m looking for.


#10

Good suggestions, all. Thank you.

Neville, I’ll admit that I would have asked something like “are you familiar with x or y products,” but you make a compelling case for my asking about what manufacturers they fit the most (or have the most experience with). I wish I had thought of that, but from now on I’ll use your advice.

BlueCrab and 1Bluejay, your advice also rings true for provider evaluations. Gut feeling, looking for a sense of trust and honesty and whether after talking with them I think they know their job. I also feel a bit overwhelmed about the process because I don’t know a lot, but I know enough to feel like something is missing in the information I’m being given (after reading about the features of the aids I’m interested in) and therefore I need to interview more than one audiologist. There’s only a few audi options in my location and even less when you take into account the insurance network. I have good insurance, but need to stay in network for providers, so may also need to travel somewhat out of my local area; we’ll see.

I have an appointment with a new audi in the near future and already I feel like I’ve messed it up by telling the appointment setter on the phone that I was interested in the Oticon OPN and Phonak Marvel. Perhaps I should have said nothing and then asked what products they were the most familiar with.

Mark, Caveat Emptor, indeed. But at the moment this learning, questioning process also feels like another job on top of my daily one. And a daunting one at that. Not griping; I’m lucky with good insurance coverage and the time to make a decision about what I want and who I want to work with.

Anyway, thank again for your advice. I’m reading some of the early reviews for the Marvels and will see how future meetings with audi(s) go.


#11

I know that feeling well. It was only 3 years ago that I got my first aids and I joined this forum in a total panic. Take a deep breath. Relax. You’ll get through this. Just keep learning all you can, and keep participating in this forum. I find the benefits of this forum to be priceless. I work with only one other person who wears hearing aids, but I come here and there is an entire community filled with people who know and understand what I’m going through. And a lot of people who have been doing this long enough to offer a treasure trove of information and advice.

You’re not alone.


#12

Familiar with it, I am. #ResoundYoda

:wink:


#13

Do NOT fret about asking about specific models. Sometimes the audiologist has to actually GET a demo model from the manufacturer before s/he can even have a meaningful app’t with you.

Such is the case with my own aud-guy. I called in advance to see when he’ll get ahold of a Phonak Marvel. I called again today to ask if it’s there yet, and if he’s had a chance to work with it. I told them if he feels he needs more time to get familiar with the Marvel to just re-schedule my app’t - no point in wasting my time or putting undue pressure on him to have it ready for me by next Wed.

Even so … FINGERS CROSSED it’ll be there and my trial will begin. :smile: