Hi guys. Rachael Cook, Doctor of Audiology at Applied Hearing Solutions in Phoenix, Arizona, and in this video I'm going to show you the three things that you need to take into account before purchasing hearing aids at an ENT office. Coming up.
I'll start off this video by assuring you of my firsthand experience rotating at several ENT clinics during my doctoral program and working at an extremely busy ENT clinic for the last year. These experiences were certainly valuable in developing as a professional, but also shed some light on the potential downsides of pursuing hearing treatment at an ENT office. Now, if you have seasonal allergies, had to have your tonsils removed, or suffer from repeated ear infections, chances are you've seen an ear, nose and throat physician, otherwise known as an ENT. ENT's are medical doctors who diagnose medical conditions, prescribe medications, and conduct different surgical interventions for all ear, nose, and throat concerns. This is different than a Doctor of Audiology, whose primary specialty is diagnosing and treating hearing loss and sound sensitivity disorders. Often with the use of hearing aids, ENT practices generally have one or more audiologists on staff to conduct hearing evaluations before and after certain medications or surgical intervention, but many hearing loss conditions cannot be remedied entirely by prescriptions or surgery alone.
In fact, most cases of hearing loss require treatment with hearing aids, not surgery. Therefore, audiologists at ENT practices generally select and program hearing aids as well. This certainly widens the scope of their day-to-day responsibilities, but it doesn't guarantee that the time and resources needed to be a clinical audiologist and a diagnostic audiologist are available to them. And while it can certainly be convenient to pursue hearing treatment at an ENT office that you already visit, there are three things you should look out for before purchasing hearing aids at an ENT office. But before we jump into that, I would really appreciate if you could hit that like button to bring videos like these to a wider audience. And while you're at it, go ahead and hit that subscribe button with notification bell so that you never miss any one of our new videos. Now let's jump into the three things that you should look out for before purchasing hearing aids at an ENT office.
The first thing that you should look out for is appointment availability. ENT clinics are often extremely dynamic with several physicians and audiologists on staff. Most audiologists at ENT practices spend over half of their time completing hearing evaluation after hearing evaluation to allow the physicians to diagnose conditions and monitor outcomes. For this reason, audiologists at ENT practices may only have select windows available to dedicate to hearing aid patients. As a patient, this may dictate the days of the week or times of the day that you are able to schedule an appointment. Additionally, because the audiologist likely splits their time between hearing aid windows and testing windows, appointment availability can be limited. At one point, I was booked out almost six weeks, and while you may be willing to wait that long for an initial hearing aid consultation or even a fitting appointment, you need to consider the impact that can have on your ongoing treatment.
If your hearing aid breaks, you need a programming adjustment, or you just have some troubleshooting concerns, you may be waiting weeks before this can be remedied. If you are considering pursuing hearing treatment at your ENT office, be sure to confirm the days and times that the hearing aid clinic is available to ensure that it aligns with your schedule. You should also inquire about the average wait times for an appointment because this can help you determine what to expect if you have a more urgent need because the time will certainly come. The second thing that you should look out for before going to an ENT office for hearing aids is the amount of support staff. There is an incredible amount of behind the scenes responsibilities for a provider when it comes to hearing treatment. For example, ordering and exchanging, hearing aids, processing repairs, managing inventory for several hearing aid brands, scheduling and moving patients, connectivity, troubleshooting, obtaining insurance benefits.
The list goes on and on, and this is all in addition to seeing patients for most of the average workday, if not more. If an audiologist is supported by front office staff, other audiologists on staff, or an audiology assistant, these responsibilities may be manageable, but in many instances, the hearing aid department in an ENT clinic is left largely to the providing audiologist, and this can result in a very unmanageable workload. In my case, I was the only hearing professional in my office that was able to order, exchange, repair, or troubleshoot hearing aids, which severely limited my patients' access to timely care. Again, it is important to consider the impact that reduced staffing can have on your ongoing care. If the audiologist is out sick, is there another provider that can see you? If your hearing aid needs repair, how quickly are these being processed and can they issue you loaner devices?
If you're having connectivity issues, can someone call you and walk you through them? These are all important questions and you should feel confident that your treatment facility has protocols in place to ensure that your care is a top priority. The third thing that you should look out for before getting hearing aids at an ENT office is time. Because of the sheer volume of patients, many offices limit appointment times risking your ability to receive Best Practices. And if you don't know what Best Practices are, make sure that you watch this video and review the checklist that's linked in the description below. Best Practices are instrumental in achieving the highest level of benefit from hearing treatment and doing it right requires a significant amount of time. Limited time leads to the elimination of particular services like Real Ear, test box, and validation outcome measures, even things like counseling and Person-Centered Care.
This all takes hours of time that is typically just not available in an ENT clinic. This was the most significant concern I had when working in this setting as more and more patients were being fit into my already very limited schedule. The concern about time is especially true if you obtain your hearing aids through an insurance based third party program, such as TruHearing, United Healthcare Hearing, or Amplifon. Because reimbursement for services through these programs is so incredibly low, offices that continue to accept third party program patients often have to limit appointment times and services even further. Ultimately, it doesn't matter if the office is close and convenient, if the quality of care is sacrificed. It doesn't matter how many follow up appointments are included in the pricing of the treatment if you can't even get on the schedule, and it doesn't matter if you purchase premium level devices, if there simply is not enough time to follow Best Practices during the testing, selection, programming, and follow up, which means you won't get the most out of these devices anyway.
I'll wrap up by saying that there are phenomenal hearing healthcare professionals that work at ENT offices. In fact, hearing testing and hearing aid programming at an ENT office often requires a significant amount of expertise as they often work with uncommon ear and hearing loss conditions. The knowledge of the audiologists generally is not the problem, but rather the resources and time available to them. If you already have an ENT and you're considering treating your hearing loss with hearing aids at their clinic, make sure to look out for these three things. Otherwise, you may sacrifice performance for convenience. That's it for this video. If you liked it, go ahead and give it a thumbs up and if you haven't already subscribed, be sure to do so so that you never miss any of our new videos that come out each week.
Hearing aid manufacturers have done an excellent job of making hearing aids smaller and smaller.Read More
The vast majority of hearing losses can be treated effectively with the use of hearing aids.Read More
Hearing aid users- this one is for you.Read More
Hearing aids come in various styles, each of which are appropriate for different types and severities of hearing loss.Read More
A quick look into over the counter hearing aids, what they are and what they do.Read More
Satisfaction with hearing instruments has steadily improved over the last 30 years.Read More