In his letter, their editor Richard Skelly, ACA, BC/HIS, MBA, highly recommends against providing any services to such consumers whatsoever. Going so far as to label anyone who dares to provide service, as fools, and even threatening potential loss of their license should they do so.
He asks all of their members to not only shun those who seek our help, but asks, “Why should I facilitate this unprofessional and unlawful system created out of greed?” Then in bold admonishes all members to “Think with your brain... NOT your pocketBook!”
I’ll gladly take that challenge. Lets examine Editor Skelly’s claims, and the fear, hidden agenda and why this organization is struggling so.
First let us examine the current state of the market and, what has Mr. Skelly, his organization and the audiological establishment so fearful, and all worked up.
It starts with soaring medical costs for everyone. These rapidly escalating costs touch everyone and while some insurance programs cover hearing aids, most specifically exclude such coverage, meaning that most of us are forced back into the market, as it is, for our hearing health care products and services.
However, unlike the market for other equipment, hearing aids and their distribution has become so highly regulated, and controlled that the costs, both monetary and procedural, of delivering products through this distribution system have become elevated artificially and significantly.
The great wealth of demographic information collected in twenty five years worth of Dr. Sergei Kotchkin of the Better hearing institue's Marke Trake Surveys, also tells us that the current number of hearing aid users (those we currently serve) is dwarfed by four, or five times, by those who have a significant hearing loss, need help, and yet, for whatever reason, have chosen not to get that help through the current, “legal and ethical” system, as Mr. Skelly’s letter claims.
As a trained scholar, with an MBA, who writes extensively regarding economic issues, it is interesting that Mr. Skelly and his organization fail to discuss even the possibility that it is Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” that is at work here. After all, those not adapting, yet needing amplification presents a potential market four to five times the size of the existing hearing aid market. Established economic theory clearly dictates that a market of such size, is bound to create consumer driven forces at least as great, and potentially many times greater than the one currently being served.
Yet this editor and organization would have us totally ignore, nay actually shun the needs presented by this segment of our market, should they have dared to seek help outside of our established system, prior to visiting us.
Thinking with my brain, and not the fear being spread, I recognize that when the unserved portion of a market needing what we provide, remains four to five times the size of those we are serving, then there just may be something more wrong with our system, and our approach, rather than the four fifths of the consumers who won’t deal with us.
That same thinking tells me that there is something very wrong indeed with any organization that advises it’s members to ignore the needs of any hearing impaired person who comes through our doors looking for help, regardless of where they’ve been for help before coming to us.
My thinking brain tells me that if, I provide the customer experience that Mr. Skelly is proposing, then that it is very unlikely that I will demonstrate any value at all to those seeking my help, and that they are very unlikely to come into my store ever again.
What is also not discussed, is that this “legal and ethical” system referred to has indeed established laws, rules and regulations that apply to the sale of hearing aids across the counter, by mail and over the Internet.
However, Mr. Skelly, and his organization resent very much, the fact that they have been unable to uniformly control this market, and compel all consumers to visit them, for all of their hearing healthcare needs, and products, through the use of legislation and regulations purposed, and written largely by their own paid lobbyists.
They are mad as hell, because growing numbers of consumers dare to seek help from somewhere, or someone other than them, especially after them having worked so many years, so hard, and having spent so much money on lobbying to keep them from being able to do so.
What also fails to garner mention is that many of the changes in the delivery system that are being initiated in the regulatory arena, such as the FDA’s recognition of Personal Sound Amplification Products, and the nationwide push by United Health Insurance and AARP are based upon the real economic and health needs of millions of consumers who lay outside of our current delivery system and have remained so, despite our best efforts under the current “legal and ethical” system.
Also not mentioned, was the broad based, study conducted by the National Science Foundation regarding containing medical costs and providing better service, that formed the basis for the FDA’s, United Healthcare’s and AARP’s moves. Nor, was there any mention of the science and accuracy of the protocols that United established to test hearing over the phone, or internet, prior to their selling a particular hearing aid to a consumer.
It is positions such as these, and their focus on the self interests of the provider/professional, rather than consumer’s interests, that put me at odds with a number of my colleagues and professional associations.
I wear hearing aids. I am a consumer of our industry’s goods, and services before I am a dispenser and audioprosthologist. It gives me a different perspective. If, I go out of business because I choose to be of service, rather than turning away those who come to me for help, well so be it.
But, rather, my thinking brain tells me it could well be the other way around, as this organization struggles for relevance, meaning, members and money, in a manner of constant fear mongering about loss of license, and business, while engaging in expensive, doomed attempts to compel all consumers, and professionals via self serving rules, regulations, and market restrictions.
In case there is any ambiguity at all, I welcome any consumer with a question, problem, or product who comes through my doors looking for help. I don’t care where you’ve been, what you’ve tried, or where you bought it. If, you’ve got a hearing related problem, I am there to be of service.
The fundamental difference in policy is this, I run a faith, rather than a fear based practice.
I am here to serve the needs of the hearing impaired. Putting them and their needs first, I make a nice living and profit. I do so, not by putting my needs, fears and demands first, but rather those who come to me for help and service.
It’s what I mean by being patient centered, and results oriented.
If, it puts me at odds with my professional colleagues, so be it. I sincerely wish them all well, and welcome all of those they turn away for any reason.