Volume #3 - March 2019
Audiology Resources
Monthly News & Updates

Well, the 2019 live stream boot camp is in the books! Thanks to all who attended!
The on-demand recorded version of the live stream boot camp is now available!

My six weeks of travel will begin next week I will be headed to the American Academy of Audiology meeting in my old stomping grounds of Columbus! My goals for AAA: listen and learn more about disruptive products and delivery models, attend some innovative talks on practicing audiology to its fullest scope, and network with some amazing colleagues. It will be wonderful to see old friends and hang out at all of my favorite Columbus spots (you'll probably find me at Barley's Brewpub or across the street from the Convention Center or Jeni's Ice Cream)! If you see me, please come by and say "hello"!

Following AAA, I am volunteering on my daughter's high school choir trip to Orlando, followed by the earned R and R that trip warrants at the beach in Florida!

I will end February hosting a face to face boot camp in Newark, New Jersey!

I hope, wherever you are, Spring is in the air!



Monthly Coding and Reimbursement Tips
New CROS and BICROS codes went into effect on January 1, 2019. These codes reflect the entire CROS/BICROS system (both the receiver/hearing aid and transmitter) with a singular code.

Codes V5170 (Hearing aid, CROS, in the ear), V5180 (Hearing aid, CROS, behind the ear), V5210 (Hearing aid, BiCROS, in the ear), and V5220 (Hearing aid, BiCROS, behind the ear) were deleted.

Before utilizing ANY of these new codes, please consult your payer fee schedules and guidance, especially Medicaid (which often does not recognize new or updates codes).

Topics like these are addressed, in detail, in the 2019 Boot Camp events.

Research Spotlight
Cognition plays a significant role in an individual's ability to process sound.

I am a huge fan of Pamela Souza's work! Dr. Souza illustrates the importance and value of considering cognition in the creation of a plan of care and in managing amplification for a patient who is not only hearing impaired but who also faces cognitive challenges.

Focusing our attention on cognition could have a significant positive impact on patient expectations and outcomes, as well as differentiate audiology from disruptive forces.

Please read or view her 2012 20Q , her 2019 20Q , or her JAAA piece on implementing cognitive tools into your practice!

Audiology is More Than Price
I am just gonna own it. I hate when audiologists market specific products, prices, and “deals”. It puts us on the level of grocery stores, Amazon, and car dealers. It makes us look like we are no more than the product we are pushing. It says nothing to the consumer about the service and care being offered. It says nothing about audiology. My business mentors had ALWAYS taught me to NEVER market price or someone else’s product because it diminished my brand and my value. This approach has personally served me well, both as a clinic director and business owner. I see audiologists as better than this.

We lament, time and time again, the lack of audiology awareness. But we all share some skin in this reality. We have shown the consumer over the last four decades, in our marketing, branding and communications, nothing about audiology and everything about price and another company’s products. In doing this, we have made audiologists equitable to hearing aid dispensers in the eyes of many consumers. We cannot promote our differences when we engage consumers at their level.

People perceive me as diminishing hearing aid dispensing. There could be nothing farther from the truth. I believe amplification is an indispensable tool in our treatment repertoire. I think it provides us with an opportunity to improve an individual’s communication and quality of life, all while illustrating the value of our training and expertise. I also think it affords us a means to practice growth and financial profitability and stability. Dispensing, when consistently provided to the evidence, changes lives. I just want to see it as part of our professional identities rather than our entire professional mission. 

Everyone though needs to make business decisions that they believe are best for themselves, their practice, and their profession. I do not walk in your shoes and I get that. I ultimately do not want folks to think like me, I just want them to think about all of these considerations before jumping onboard an approach that, in the long run, might not be good for your business or our profession. Your reputation is something precious and hard fought. Please consider the following questions:

§   What do consumers see or learn about you, your practice, and our profession when it’s all about the product, the “deal” or the price?

§   What do you believe are their perceptions and takeaways of your practice?

§   Do we want the hearing aid journey to be equitable to buying a refrigerator? Or is there more to it?

§   What do people tell you brought them to your office? The “deal” or a referral from a physician or friend?

§   What type of consumer do you want as your patient?

§   Is the “deal” a good return on investment? Does it help lower your customer acquisition costs?

§   Why do audiologists so often solely focus on product, price and promotion rather than things like brand, the patient experience, and value?

§   What do your communications and marketing say about you and your business?

Given our crazy schedules, I rarely get my husband’s undivided attention. Last night was one of those opportunities. For those of you who do not know, my husband is in upper management of a Fortune 500 company and deals with questions such as this in his work every day. He has a ton of business training, acumen (MBA) and experience. I asked him what he thought about marketing “price”. He said that when you market price you have, essentially subjugated value and quality. He indicated that it can be a great way to get someone to your door but not always a great way to keep them as patients. These patients have little loyalty because they are often looking for the “better deal” or the lowest price, not the superior outcome or experience. They do not value YOU, they value the deal.

I am passionate about ensuring the stability and growth of audiology. I put my own reputation, money and sanity on the line every day in pursuing this goal.  I want to see early career professionals have a strong return on their educational investment and a financially viable and professionally fulfilling future. I think hearing aid dispensing will continue to have a huge role in our businesses. In order for that to happen though, we have to differentiate ourselves from hearing aid dispensers, big box retailers, and over the counter and direct to consumer offerings. We have to provide them with value, quality, and experiences that cannot get in other retail venues. I am not sure that is consistent with being part of ‘deals” and focusing on price, especially as more items are available direct to consumer. 

We instead have to communicate our expertise and its value to the consumer, their communication or mobility, and their quality of life. We need to find out their needs and desires and meet them. We need to communicate care and service and not just product. We need to illustrate to consumers who audiology is and can be for them. We need to show them master’s and doctoral level professionals who can help them solve their communication and balance needs and improve their quality of life. I want them to feel comfortable coming to us even if there is no product to buy or “deal” to cash in on. I want them to see value and quality and not merely price. I want consumers to THINK AUDIOLOGY