Are you doing in house repairs? If you aren’t it is a good time to start. The first step to building a relationship with your patients is getting that all important facetime in your office. We schedule regular 6 month service visits for our patients that wear hearing aids. These visits are handled by our assistants which is a tremendous way to handle service if your state allows it. A state-by-state list of licensure requirements for assistants can be found at https://www.asha.org/advocacy/state/.
Incorporating audiology assistants has been instrumental to the growth and success of my practice. For the past 30-plus years, I have employed at least one, and currently employ three. The use of assistants may still be considered controversial, despite the endorsement of every professional organization for more than 40 years. I know some colleagues worry that assistants undermine their authority and lessen the need for audiologists. However, in my experience, employing assistants bolsters patient satisfaction, productivity and profitability of the practice.
Now back to the discussion on service. My assistants handle all of the service in the practice and they are excellent at repairing hearing aids while a patient waits and enjoys a cookie and a cup of fresh coffee. But years ago I learned that my assistants were so good at repairing that they almost repaired me out of business! I recall an appointment when a patient came in with a 7 year old aid that was dead. The assistant was so conscientious that she spent 45 min and got the aid to work again! The problem was that I had tested the patient just two months before and the 7 year old aids were no longer providing adequate gain for his hearing loss. I tried to convince him to replace them with more appropriate technology but he insisted that he insisted that as long as the aids “worked”, he wasn’t replacing them. How disappointed I was when my assistant went and repaired an aid that should have been replaced. She felt so good about “saving him the cost of new aids”, and yet, the truth was she deprived the man of better hearing.
In office repairs can be a great service for patients, but it’s important to have a policy of what to repair in house and what NOT to repair in house. My service department is a BIG source of referrals for the practice. If an aid is out of warranty and the patient hasn’t been seen by a professional in the past six months, then they are to involve the professional before repairing the aid. This is all completed while the patient is in the office and if the aid is sent out for repair, we provide loaners.
Offering in office service can also bolster revenue for the practice as we of course charge for all repairs unless the patient has an extended service plan with us. Dazzling patients with spectacular service is always great for business but make sure you have a policy so that it’s in the patient’s best interest too.