We at Hears Hearing & Hearables have been happily helping those that need hearing aid chargers, ear care supplies, hearing aid accessories, and whatever other hearing help they may need. But now we are excited to be offering mail-in hearing aid repair services! This service will not only save valuable time but also ensures that those with hearing difficulties can now get their devices fixed without having to leave the comfort of their homes.
In just a few easy steps, you can mail your hearing aids to us and we will examine, diagnose, and repair whatever issue you may have.
Traditional hearing aid repair often involves scheduling appointments, commuting to a physical store, and waiting for repairs to be completed. This process can be inconvenient, especially for individuals with mobility issues or limited transportation options. However, with the introduction of mail-in repair services, these barriers are now a thing of the past. Customers can simply package their hearing aids and send them to our in-person clinic. Once at our clinic we will perform the necessary repairs and return the devices directly to their doorsteps.
We at Hears Hearing & Hearables understand the importance of efficiency. We have designed a streamlined process to ensure quick and reliable repairs. When customers send in their hearing aids, they are first evaluated to identify the issues. Once the technicians diagnose the problem, they promptly carry out the repairs using the appropriate equipment and tools. And if the repair is beyond our clinic capabilities we will handle anything that needs to go to the manufacturer or elsewhere.
To further enhance customer experience, we provide convenient communication channels for inquiries, updates, and support. Whether through email or phone, customers can easily reach out to us to address any concerns or questions they may have. Additionally, we will send regular updates on the repair progress, providing peace of mind and transparency throughout the entire process.
We hope our mail-in hearing aid repair service will bring a new level of convenience and accessibility. By simplifying the repair process and providing expert service, we hope to benefit a wide range of individuals with hearing difficulties. With mail-in repair, you can now bid farewell to the hassle of physical appointments and welcome a more efficient, reliable, and customer-friendly solution for maintaining and repairing your hearing aids.
I have always been creative and have thought outside of the box but lately, I am having a hard time sleeping because of all the ideas. I have so many ideas I am having a hard time keeping up with them. Perhaps this is normal for someone who has been in an industry for almost 30 years and my focus on ideas is in my career at this point.
I love working with people. For a few years, I was also in a doctoral program. You would like to think that creativity would be accepted into a Ph.D. program, however, it was not, for the most part. Yes, there were some professors that loved my creativity and passion. Others were something other than accepting. I heard words and sentences from these professors like “high-maintenance”, “not like #otherstudent who is a perfect A student” and “that is not how we do it”. So I realized it wasn’t going to work and left the program.
It has been a pleasure helping people. The trouble is if you don’t own your own space you have to follow what others want you to do, even if it is unethical, or lacks the most important concept, hence helping people. I soon realized that I continued to face issues with these companies lacking creativity and changing the status quo. I had to do what I was told and not what was best or easiest for the person you are helping. Can you believe a group of doctors told me they didn’t want the tail of the dog (me) to lead the dog (them)? And I was only trying to figure out how to help more people to make hearing care more accessible at that time.
Only now do I realize how creatively I developed the model and how successful the model worked at that time. As time ticked along and technology progressed, I realized yet again it was time to make another change in the model. If you don’t progress with the progression, you are the provider/owner/helper to the person who wants to help, and you won’t be around anymore. The person who wants hearing help will go to a more progressive concept, or at worst a cheap option. But we all know cheap is expensive. Ask me what I have observed in hearing health care that isn’t helpful to people and is only dangerous. I don’t need to tell you that hearing is really important.
The business is an e-commerce store that has so many products from ear-cleaning type products to hearing products and even tinnitus therapy products. We also have service available, and not just customer service which is to say normal but fee-for-service on people’s more complicated needs that customer service can’t manage. We have forums and videos and blogs.. oh my! Concepts and ideas for people. What do they need, and how to figure it out? Like a little puzzle figuring out what puzzle piece fits best for that person. Who doesn’t love a good puzzle when challenged?
Not all products are plug-and-play like the Airpods that so many people go and buy. These new products for ears and hearing have been engineered with creativity and thought. We need to handle these products with creativity too.
Right after I graduated college I wanted to become a writer. I have always been told I have an “awkward” writing style. But how I loved the creativity in stories and in literature. For a good little reader, people tell me I should be better at writing and my spelling should also be better. Is that really true? Perhaps my brain thinks awkwardly and that is why I write the way I do.
In 2023, I got my creative juices flowing. I am working with a small team now and it is going great. I am so thrilled at how many people we are helping. Not just fitting hearing aids and making sales either. Other audiologists should jump on the creative bandwagon. Or jump along with me. I could use the help.
How you have gotten others to come on board with you when you can’t completely afford to hire them yet?
Please support small new start-up businesses because these businesses are progressing and trying to make things better. (Respect that growth, unless they are only trying to make money and something cheap.) I challenge myself every day to drop the “old stale donut” and pick up a newly made “goodie”. Thanks for reading. Kim
Phillip, my dad is an honest ethical man who has lived a life of integrity, works to help people, loves my mom, likes to have fun, watches a Gophers football game, and keeps connected with others and learning from others. A man in his 80s, dad is still working, enjoying life, and meeting new people –especially those who he finds interesting in one way or another.
Several days later, I went for a walk with my parents and my dad shared with me, and mom, his excitement and connection with his new friend, who I will call Prof C. Prof C, he emphasized, was quite a character. He was impressed with what Prof C shared about education, teaching and his sense of humor. He told my mom he would like Prof C to come to stay with them and visit. Prof C., he said, is a professor. He shared part of their conversations and ideals. My dad was beyond motivated. You know how you get when you meet someone that empowers you?
Anyway, my dad told me that his hearing aid stopped working halfway through the conference and he struggled. From that comment, he went on to say that Prof C needed his help. He said he could tell Prof C couldn’t hear well or maybe Prof C shared that he couldn’t hear well. Not sure how that went down but he asked me if I could help his new friend. I said “yes, of course” as I too love helping people. So, my dad gave me his email address.
I spoke with Professor C who was interesting and I felt we both were at ease right away talking about my dad and then his own hearing difficulties. Prof C and I had an agenda: to figure out how to help C hear better.
After going back to his own audiologist a dozen or so times over the course of getting his new hearing aids and then his travels he and I finally came up with an idea on what to do.
I won’t name products in this writing as it isn’t about the product. As clinicians, we must be aware of the impact we can make on human lives. Although it isn’t life or death, it is about the quality of your life!
Sending packages in the mail has become easy for me. Since we have an online store, we ship everywhere. So, packing up a new programmed device for Prof C was easy. Prof C had sent me his audiogram, pictures of his molds, and so on. I was hopeful that he didn’t just have plugged wax in his ears. He said wax wasn’t an issue for him. He shared his struggles and concerns with his hearing.
Yes, we had some issues with the cameras and him hearing well at that first meeting. But he quickly figured out how to get the support he needed on his end of the camera as we started working on a new solution. Prof C was a quick learner with all this technology and with support from a young colleague of his, we were Rockin and rollin. Prof C is funny and well I greatly enjoyed conversing with him.
With him hearing better and his happiness in light of the one different product that I sent him, he was very satisfied without needing to try anything else. Those around him noticed the ease at which he could hear better. Did I do much? No, not really. I did what I was supposed to do as a professional. Prof C said he was very, very happy with being able to hear.
We tried to figure out what to do next because he just spent his insurance benefit on this product that didn’t work and led him to believe he was losing his ability to process speech and even considered getting a cochlear implant!
I tried to be as gentle as I could, concerned about what was happening to him. This audiologist is not the only one that pushes one brand from prestigious universities and hospitals. In my practice, I see this weekly. People told me that they did not have a choice, walk-in not hearing well, and were upset. Feeling they are becoming deaf. And with some adjustments and with a demo of other products, I help these troubled consumers find something that gives them the help they need.
If you only work with my product/solution and your patient still isn’t hearing well and your tweaks are not working, perhaps consider trying a different product or referring to someone who does.
Well, I never heard back from his audiologist, but she sent him a note requesting for him to accept an appointment. He accepted the appointment with another audiologist who worked with him on his hearing. They told him that he couldn’t return the device.
He now feels he is hearing somewhat better with his product. Yes, he will keep the demo I sent him until we are sure he is out of the woods. Anything I can do to help him is my pleasure.
Was I a saint? I don’t think so. Was my dad a saint? I don’t think so either. Helping others is what we all need to strive to do for other humans. We are all in this together.
I want to share this story to help other people with hearing loss and to audiologists and hearing care professionals to realize that one solution isn’t always the solution. There are choices and indignities in our industry for being so caught up in one product. This is why transparency is so important. If you are in business with one brand one solution one product, then let your client know that there are other options.
Please be better for the sake of our clients. For those of you with hearing loss feel free to get a second opinion!
And finally, thanks to my dad and mom for raising me to treat others with respect and care.
Now the German Research Foundation (DFG) has extended the funding for this project. Led by Dr. Volker Hohmann of the University of Oldenburg, the CRC is focusing on developing hearing aids and hearing assistance systems that use artificial intelligence (AI) to automatically adjust to different environments. This will make the devices more adaptable to the individual needs of the end user.
“In our aging society, it is becoming increasingly urgent to develop hearing aids and other communication aids that work effectively in difficult acoustic environments and really help people in daily life. Oldenburg’s hearing research is doing excellent work and is highly recognized both nationally and internationally. The German Research Foundation’s renewed funding commitment underlines this in an impressive way”, said University President Prof. Dr. Ralph Bruder.
The CRC Hearing Acoustics brings together various disciplines, in particular, acoustics, audiology, psychoacoustics, engineering sciences, and physical modeling. The first phase focused on the interactions between people with impaired hearing and their environments.” In real life, the hearing situation changes constantly because people react to voices and sounds. For example, they turn their head toward the sound source, or shift their gaze.. We call this the “acoustic communication loop”, says Hohmann.
In the past few years, the team has succeeded in incorporating the hearing aid into this acoustic communication loop. The device determines the direction of the test person’s gaze and head movements and then adjusts the signal processing to ensure that the targeted sound source can be optimally heard.
Another discovery of the first phase is the “hearpiece”, a special, particularly high-quality earpiece for research purposes. The device can boost sound in exactly the same way as a hearing aid. The researchers can use it to test new algorithms for signal processing directly in the ear. Hohmann says, “Thanks to the interdisciplinary collaboration within the CRC, we were able to combine acoustics and signal processing methods and have made considerable progress.”
Now as the second funding period begins, the CRC team plans to refine and merge its perception models, algorithms, and applications. The long-term goal is for each hearing aid to constantly learn and get better at predicting which setting is optimal for the user in a specific situation. People with impaired hearing are to be able to enter the necessary feedback themselves via their smartphone.
The team is working on international standards in hearing research and audiology in order to facilitate exchange between laboratories. Also, the CRC aims to develop new hearing-acoustic tests in virtual environments to better identify differences in perception. This should make it possible to design diagnostics and hearing aid rehabilitation measures that are optimally tailored to the needs of the individual.
This essentially means that the hearing aids of the future will be able to act more like your brain; allowing you to hear more “normally”. If you have questions about this article, or you would like to read it for yourself, please contact us.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned!
We communicate for a number of reasons. When we are babies we can only communicate by crying or fussing. Parents teach children sign language to help them communicate their needs as it is understood that sign language is easier than expressive language. Later, as we grow up our language skills improve and we can communicate with one another with ease, mostly. Students need to communicate with their teachers and teachers to their students. We communicate for education, for fun, for training, for work, for love, and for other forms of communication in life.
When we get older communication gets more difficult as we start to have vision, hearing, and cognitive declines. Communication is still important. Communication can be as significant as life or death. For instance, when people get instructions on medicine, and they don’t take it as prescribed, getting all the information, it could be life or death.
If you know us, there is nothing better we like than to have a fun conversation and communicate with others. We truly believe that communication is so important it drives our daily focus. When we have people come in to talk to us and they can’t hear, it is hard to communicate. Our first idea is to make sure the person is hearing well, seeing what they can see, and understanding to the best of their abilities.
Recently we read some research by Nicholas Reed’s group at Johns Hopkins (2019) about communicating in the health care system. Here is what his group found:
“Using a large claims dataset, the OptumLabs Data Warehouse, they matched adults with and without hearing loss on many variables including age, race, sex, region, insurance, education, baseline spending, and utilization metrics, and comorbidities and examined health utilization outcomes at 2-year (N=154,414), 5-year (N=44,852), and 10-year (N=4,728) time points. Over a 10-year period, compared to those without hearing loss, those with hearing loss: Here is what they found.
As audiologists, we have the ability to help and we at Hears Hearing & Hearables have put together a program that will work with various healthcare providers, clinics, and even hospitals to help the health care provider communicate with their patients.
Our program will be based on a consult, helping the provider administration group with the appropriate products to use for their needs in communication, getting the products to the group, and training the group on how to use the products all with great pricing.
Further service can be purchased on the products and needs from a networked provider.
We will be offering Packages to keep the costs lower and expectations aligned that best meet the needs of the patient.
Let us know if you are interested in learning more.
This includes financing your purchase.
It never has. It has been discussed on Capitol Hill, but no action yet. What if you do not have Medicare or are too young for Medicare? How are you supposed to pay? Does insurance cover the cost?
The short answer is: that usually insurance companies do not pay for hearing aids. There is a longer answer, which follows. You didn’t really think you were going to get off that easy, did you?
Read more of the story on Medium!
We found this to be an interesting read so what we did is summarize what he wrote so it would be easier for you to get the gist. We don’t think everything he wrote is accurate but we also think it is important for you to understand what we all are up against. We would like you to know that we are not in the “hearing aid cartel” as we have no contracts or hidden business agreements with any big company, and are trying to stay helping people with their hearing without going out of business. We believe in helping people with transparency and compassion.
His first thought is why do Americans pay eight times more for hearing aids than the British? They are big businesses, and the “hearing aid cartel” controls the industry through mergers, patents, and control of many audiologists.
For decades, purchasing a hearing aid in the US has been a difficult experience, this is why we started our businesses. It is so hard to figure out what is going on and how to buy the right thing for yourself. There is no cure for hearing loss for the most part so people have to buy a product. Hearing loss is pervasive with about two-thirds of people over 70 experiencing some form of it, but only about 20 percent of those actually use hearing aids. The average cost is $4700 per pair according to Matt’s research. The reason for this excess, Matt believes is the cost is pure profit margin for the manufacturers. We don’t totally agree with that as businesses do need to pay employees and overhead and there is also mark up from the provider. We do know this is partially true because we independent audiologists (that is us) pay between 3-4 times as much as Costco does for the same device. Although this is also not a given because we don’t know what Costco really has negotiated for pricing. We just know that they charge the consumer less than what we private audiologists get for one product, that they sell for two! Note: we understand this as if you buy bulk you can save. Independent Audiologists can not buy that kind of bulk. We are lucky to help the same amount of people in one year that Costco does in one month or even one day for that matter!
One reason is that the FDA requires a prescription. Since 1993, advocates have been calling for the FDA to loosen those regulations. Finally, in 2017, Congress passed a bill titled “Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act”, which mandates the FDA to allow hearing aids without a prescription. The goal was to remove a barrier to entry and introduce cheaper competition. This is so the manufacturer can go direct to the consumer without having hearing professionals taking a mark up for their time and efforts. In comes Bose and perhaps Apple too.
Specifically, the rules allow companies to sell hearing aids without a prescription from an audiologist or hearing aid specialist. The FDA seems to have put protection and limits on noise levels, frequency, distortion, and insertion depth and subjected over-the-counter hearing aids to labeling requirements. You would think this would cause hearing aid manufacturers some concern. Interestingly, the stock prices of the major hearing aid producers did not change. Hmm. Why? There may be several reasons. Perhaps the stockholders are wrong. Another perhaps, is that these firms use a variety of techniques to keep prices high. The OTC market is just the start of the battle. Or are they happy to go direct to the consumer to try and get more market share, we wonder?
The key players in the market are six firms that you may or may not know: WS Audiology (founded in 2019 when Sivantos and Widex merged), Amplifon, Sonova (Phonak, Unitron and others), GN, Demant, and Starkey. These firms own many hearing aid brands. Competition is complex but these hearing aid companies use three basic mechanisms to retain their market power. The first is a patent pool: several firms come together to share essential patents with the goal of excluding other from the business. In this industry, the patent pool is centered in a corporation called the “Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Patent Partnership (HIMPP)”. HIMPP, according to its website, develops, manufactures, and markets “over 90% of the hearing technology available to consumers worldwide”. If a new company wants to enter the market, it is likely you will infringe on one of these patents, which means you will have to pay licensing fees. HIMPP also keeps an eye out on hearing aid-related patent activity with the goal of opposing granting patents to non-partners.
The second barrier Matt points out is that most of the manufacturers engage in vertical integration. Vertical integration is when a firm owns an important supplier or buyer up and down the supply chain; a retailer who owns a distributor or a steelmaker who owns a coal mine. In this case, several of these firms have subsidiaries that manage the hearing part of health insurance. WS Audiology owns TruHeaing and Hearing Care Solutions, which runs health care plans and discount plans for Medicare Advantage Insurers (including Humana, BC/BS, Anthem, Aetna, Cigna and others). So, the hearing aid section of your insurance policy is owned by the hearing aids manufacturer. What could possibly go wrong?
These manufacturers take it a step further by owning or affiliating with networks of audiologists. So people will use their insurance, which is controlled by a hearing aid manufacturer, send them to an audiologist who is also employed by that hearing aid manufacturer. Patients have no idea these conflicts of interest exist.
Much of the power of the cartel is lobbying and campaign contributions. These firms also rely on mergers. Since the bill passed in 2017, Sonova bought the consumer part of Sennheiser’s business (a German private audio company), Bragi sold its hardware business in Bluetooth earpieces, and HIMPP acquired patents from several companies who might otherwise have entered the new OTC hearing aid market.
Stay tuned. You know that we at Hears to U and Hears Hearing & Hearables have mentioned these conflicts we know about to our patients. We have tried to explain what a third-party payer really is. How a discounted hearing product may or may not be the right thing for you. This is our business and a knowledgeable consumer can be a dangerous thing. We will continue to keep you up to date. Anti-monopolists in Congress have taken notice. Creating the OTC hearing aid market is just the beginning. As they begin to unravel the Gordian Knot that is these conflicts of interest, more will follow. We are hopeful.
Summarized by Karen and edited by Kim