More and more people are becoming aware of the ability to buy hearing aids online rather than through a local audiologist, with companies such as Jabra and other over-the-counter devices advertising them daily.
We are thrilled, however, that the marketing dollars are being spent to increase the awareness of hearing loss and hearing treatment options, considering only 1 in 4 of adults with hearing loss actually takes action to solve their hearing issue.
As Doctors of Audiology, our team has a number of concerns about the process of buying hearing aids online, which we will outline below.
Why People Might Buy Hearing Aids Online
Many people who choose to purchase hearing aids online — rather than choose to visit their local hearing care professional — are looking for a quick fix and a simple solution.
They are probably busy and don’t want to take the time to schedule an appointment with a professional. They are also afraid of what that might cost!
Most people who buy hearing aids online are looking for a cost-effective and quick solution.
The Actual Benefits Of Buying Hearing Aids Online
The benefits of buying hearing aids online are similar to the benefits of buying anything online:
- You can shop without leaving your home.
- You can research reviews of products.
- You can order and have them shipped to your front door without picking up the phone or visiting an office.
The Risks Of Buying Hearing Aids Online
I would say that the risks of buying hearing aids online are as follows:
1. Incorrect Diagnosis
When a patient purchases devices online, they typically also take a hearing test online. The problem is that the equipment is not sophisticated enough, and the testing is likely inaccurate.
The hearing aids would then be programmed to an incorrect hearing loss and, therefore, would over-or under-amplify sounds for that patient. This is dangerous and could lead to additional hearing loss.
Also, the hearing loss could be a simple solution that wouldn’t even warrant the need for a hearing device, such as a medically treatable condition like middle ear fluid or earwax buildup.
2. Lack of Follow-Up Care
When you place a hearing aid inside your ear each day, it tends to break down over time or give problems that need attention.
Hearing aids purchased online don’t come with an in-person audiologist!
Follow-up care is an extremely important piece of treatment for hearing loss, and many people who purchase devices online don’t think about the long-term frustrations that come with that decision.
My Opinion on Listen Lively
Listen Lively, one online hearing aid seller assumes that the solution to a hearing loss is a device. They try to make the process to take action toward better hearing as swift and simple as possible.
My professional opinion of the process is that the diagnosis of the loss is not correct in most cases, no visual inspection of the ear canal has been performed, and patients will be neglected for follow-up care after the financial transaction has taken place, leaving them frustrated and disappointed in the “quick fix” of a gadget.
Also, Listen Lively only offers one manufacturer, which may not be the best solution for everyone. They also only offer an over-the-ear model, which also may not be the patient’s preference.
As an independent private practice of Doctors of Audiology, our team would choose the most appropriate solution for each patient based on their hearing loss and preferences.
Each manufacturer has strengths and weaknesses, and we want to make sure that our patients are getting the best product that will most appropriately meet their needs. There’s no such thing as one hearing aid model as a solution for everyone.
Lifestyle, fit, and budget are all important, and the most important aspect is that the hearing aid serves your hearing needs perfectly. Only an audiologist can help you find the best device for you.
Watch the Private Practice Versus Listen Lively video created by a good friend of mine, Dr. Kelsi Mangrem.
It was amazing to have a patient’s perspective of the process with Listen Lively.
As suspected, once the transaction is complete, service dwindles, and the patient is left with long hold times and limited-service – leaving them back to where they started, without a solution to their hearing loss. Only now, they have thousands of dollars invested.
My Advice to Someone Considering Buying Hearing Aids Online
I understand why you would consider looking into an online solution for hearing help.
My advice to you is to consider a professional’s opinion before making a decision that will be a quick fix and not a long-term solution.
If price is your concern, a local professional should have an option for a treatment plan that addresses your budget without leaving you abandoned with no service a few months after the transactional sale.
Treating hearing loss requires more than a hearing aid.
The first step to treating hearing loss correctly is a professional hearing test. It’s quick and non-invasive.
In one visit to our Lubbock or Snyder office, one of our audiologists will let you know for sure what’s going on and offer you some great options so you can enjoy a rich, independent lifestyle once again.