If you’ve ever shopped for a hearing aid, you know there are many hearing aid options to choose from. Depending on you or your family member’s needs, you may need an in-the-canal fit, or an in-ear fit, a behind-the-ear hearing aid, and so on… and so on… and so on! Now that you know what configurations are out there, it’s interesting to see how these custom fitted hearing aids are made. Many of you know how expensive hearing aids can be, but did you know what goes into making the custom fitted hearing aids? The guys at How Its Made (a very popular YouTube channel) put together a video to answer the question; How do they make custom hearing aids? Enjoy!
If you’ve ever wondered; Do I need a hearing aid? You just might… Professionals will tell you that hearing loss is such a gradual decline that folks with hearing issues are usually the last to know. Many times they blame hearing issues on others, believing friends are mumbling, or perhaps they’re “quiet talkers” (to steal a Seinfeldism).
Do I need a hearing aid?
News reporter Emily Robinson interviews Heather Bennett, an audiologist with Advanced Hearing Centers for some great tips on what to expect if you think you might need a hearing aid. First step (and most obvious on the list) is to get yourself tested. Find a local qualified resource that can professionally diagnose your specific situation, and get some unbiased information on what options are available to you. A number of audiologists sell hearing aids and will likely want to sell you one that they stock.
Buying a hearing aid from an audiologist isn’t a bad idea, but understand what you’re buying before you take the plunge. Search online for equivalent hearing aid prices, and don’t be afraid to negotiate with sellers. Did you know that Costco is now in the hearing aid business? Bottom line is that consumers need to do their homework more than ever. The old adage about making a good purchasing decision still holds true to this day; Buy right… Cry once.
Buying A Hearing Aid
Buying a hearing aid for the first time can be a tough experience for many. So many different hearing aid styles to choose from… In-the-ear, completely-in-the-ear, behind the ear… And the list goes on and on! There a number of new companies entering the hearing aid market (such as Costco and Embrace Hearing) that are providing more competition and innovation in this space. This is good news for all!
As we said, buying the right hearing aid is not easy. Fortunately there are a number of resources to help guide you on your quest for better hearing. Our goal here at The Senior List is to bring you information that matters to you and your family. That said, we’re pleased to be able to share a video from Consumer Reports that offers advice on choosing the proper hearing aid. If you have other helpful hints that were successful for you, please pass them along.
Consumer Reports (video): Tips on buying a hearing aid
More About Buying a Hearing Aid:
Today, The Senior List continues our focus on the hearing aid market in an effort to inform our readers, and assist the millions of folks out there with hearing loss. Odd are each and every one of you reading this post knows someone who wears a hearing aid, OR knows someone suffering from hearing loss. In the U.S. alone, 37 million people suffer from hearing loss, and that number is growing exponentially. One of the most important aspects of maintaining your hearing aid (for optimal performance) is regular cleaning. It’s important for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the amount of debris that collects in and around your device such as ear wax, dirt, and the like.
Here’s a nice tutorial we found from Ascent Hearing Care in the UK (website temporarily unavailable). Ascent Hearing Care is on Twitter (@AscentHearing). In the video, a representative from Ascent Hearing discusses how to clean a hearing aid. They describe just HOW to care for your hearing device, and WHY you should clean your hearing aid for “securing optimum performance”.
How To Clean A Hearing Aid
If you’re interested in learning more about solutions to hearing loss, you might enjoy the following posts:
A couple of wonderful videos of people hearing for the first time (with the help of a hearing device)
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In this report on hearing loss and hearing aids we thought we’d take an opportunity to pass along a couple of our favorite videos on the subject. The 2 videos below are wonderful reminders that illustrate the truly touching moment of folks hearing for the first time (due to hearing aid and/or implant technology). Enjoy!
29 year old deaf woman delights in hearing her voice for the first time (video)
Little girl hears for the first time with implant technology (video)
How Disruptors (like Costco & Embrace Hearing) In The Hearing Aid Market Are Shaking Things Up
Why Costco is Targeting the Hearing Aid Market
How to Choose the Right Hearing Aid for You
How Big Is The Hearing Aid Market?
If you’ve been following our series on hearing aids, you know that this is a huge market with skyrocketing growth potential. Consider these stats; There are 35 million U.S. consumers that could benefit from a hearing aid, and only a quarter of them actually wear them. (Why? They’re darn expensive!) Also consider that the first wave of Boomers (79 million strong) just started turning 65. The walkman generation that started pluggin-in 33 years ago is going to turn this market… (get ready for it)… on it’s ear!
Kaiser Health News suggests that “Only a quarter of the 35 million U.S. adults who could benefit from hearing aids actually get them, and one of the main reasons is money”. – From The Senior List article “How To Choose A Hearing Aid“
Newcomers To The Hearing Aid Market
There are some interesting challenges going on in the hearing aid space that could spark some disruption in this market. First; Costco saw the writing on the wall, and recently began selling hearing aids through Costco Hearing Centers. This is great news for consumers. When you combine Costco’s BUYING POWER with a committed focus on QUALITY CUSTOMER SERVICE, every market tunes-in (and subsequently tunes-up.) This means everyone else that wants to stay in this game will have to sharpen their pencils, re-think their marketing strategies, and improve customer service in a big way.
The second big disruption in this arena occurred when two former Stanford classmates (Sam Tanzer and Ross Porter) formed an unlikely partnership. These two entrepreneurs saw a stale market with a ton of growth potential and decided to form Embrace Hearing, a company “making high-quality hearing aids available at affordable prices”. These guys seem to get it, and they’re applying start-up-muscle to solve the problems they see inherent in this space. Embrace Hearing cuts out the middle man, and keeps it simple. They offer just 3 options when ordering direct; a base model at $399, a mid tier model at $599 and a high end at $899 (*price per ear when ordering a pair). The higher the price point, the more features in the hearing aid.
Ross Porter (co-founder) tells The Senior List what he thinks is wrong with the current distribution model for hearing aids, and where he thinks it’s going; “Audiologists run loss-making businesses that are subsidized by the sale of hearing aids. When a customer pays $5,000 for hearing aids, he’s paying perhaps $100 for the manufacturer’s cost, $900 for the manufacturer’s profit margin, $1,000 for the audiologist’s time, and then $3,000 to cover the overhead of an inefficient, legacy brick & mortar distribution system that will ultimately be made more efficient by the spread of online distribution. It’s important to understand that audiologists are not price gouging — but given their high fixed cost structure, they literally cannot make hearing aids affordable without going out of business. But the world is changing, and patient needs – not audiologist needs – will determine how hearing aids are distributed in the future. We believe that online hearing aid retailers, like Embrace Hearing, will soon dominate the hearing aid industry, leaving audiologists able to do the medical screenings and testing they are trained to do, and not the salesperson job that they are forced into.”
“A disruptive innovation is an innovation that helps create a new market and value network, and eventually goes on to disrupt an existing market and value network (over a few years or decades), displacing an earlier technology. The term is used in business and technology literature to describe innovations that improve a product or service in ways that the market does not expect, typically first by designing for a different set of consumers in the new market and later by lowering prices in the existing market.” – Wikipedia
The Hearing Aid Market
The hearing aid market is past due for some disruption. Make no mistake about it- there are some fantastic, extremely competent, and caring folks working in hearing loss centers (all across the U.S.). The vast majority of these professionals go to work with one thing in mind. To make a difference in someones life by improving problems caused by hearing loss. Markets do what markets do… until they’re forced to correct, or to change course. They don’t change course unless there is a compelling reason to do so. This market is is a monster ($6 billion today & $8 billion by 2018 – CNBC reports) and there ARE compelling reasons for disruptive innovators to think about moving-in here… John F. Kennedy once said “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” Here’s to all the disruptive innovators out there looking ahead, and looking to shake things up a bit. – Cheers -